House debates

Monday, 21 November 2022


Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023, Appropriation Bill (No. 2) 2022-2023, Appropriation (Parliamentary Departments) Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023; Second Reading

3:38 pm

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I held a Fisher budget forum six weeks ago. It was obviously the second one that I'd held this year, and we in my electorate discussed the good, the bad and the ugly in Labor's 2022-23 budget. I think it's important to recognise where we've come from, and that is a position of strength. The coalition set up and handed to the Labor government an economy that was the envy of the world, although the Labor government seem to be doing their best to trash that as we speak.

Less than six months on, things are very different to where they were in May this year. The Treasurer promised a bread-and-butter budget, but now we know that it was more like a charter-boat budget; any Queenslanders listening to this will know what I mean by that. The Treasurer is now wandering around saying: 'Budget? What budget?' I've never seen a Treasurer or a government walk away from a much-heralded budget like those opposite have done recently.

But it's not all bad. I want to talk about some of the good things. As the Leader of the Opposition said, we in opposition are not going to oppose for opposition's sake. We will identify and recognise where there are good things in the budget, and we will call out where there are bad things, bad policy that the government undertakes. I was pleased to see the childcare subsidy extended to even more Australians. I was with the shadow minister for early childhood education for an industry round table, and it was great to see and learn the perspectives of many industry players from the early childhood sector. Whilst I recognise and acknowledge it's a good thing that the childcare subsidy is being extended, it was made very clear to me in that meeting, and since, that there are many early childhood centres operating around the country but, in fact, there are many places in the country that simply don't have access to those early childhood centres. The government can throw all the money it likes at this issue, but I know that particularly in rural, remote and some parts of regional Australia there are young people who just simply cannot get those services. Families can't get those services. That means at least one parent has to stay at home and look after those children, and that has a significant impact on the productivity of this nation.

I was also glad to see the government recommit to reducing the cost of medicines through the PBS co-payment—something which both parties took to the last election. I was especially pleased to see support for veterans' housing, with the $46.7 million investment into the Defence Home Ownership Assistance Scheme. Veterans' wellbeing has been one of my personal priorities over the last six years. There is so much more work to be done from this place on the care of our veterans.

Last but not least, I want to once again put on record the thanks of the people of the Sunshine Coast for the Labor government's intention to keep the $1.6 billion investment in the Sunshine Coast rail project that the coalition promised in the March budget. Whilst I am very pleased to see the recognition from the minister that the money is in the budget, it took a couple of days to get that announcement because there was nothing physically in the budget papers—which caused me some degree of consternation, as you'd probably imagine, Deputy Speaker Claydon—but the infrastructure minister, on about day 3 or 4 after the budget, came out and said that the Labor Party would be honouring the coalition's commitment of $1.6 billion. That's a great thing for the Sunshine Coast. We now have bipartisan support for the Sunshine Coast rail at a federal level. What we don't have on an estimated $3.2 billion project is the state's $1.6 billion.

This is another example of an infrastructure project which we led from the front when we were in government. We led by investing, or at least offering to invest, in a state project. When you see a train in Queensland that's operating on the north-south railway line, you'll see it emblazoned with QR. You don't see CR, you don't see CTHR, and you don't see federal rail; it says QR, Queensland Rail. The Queensland state government is responsible for its own rail line. The Federal member for Fairfax and I worked assiduously for six years with our own party, our own government, to get a commitment of $1.6 billion, and we secured that in the March budget. As I said, I'm very pleased to see that the Federal Labor Party have come on board. It's a great project. It's a nation-building project. It's good for the economy. It's good for the local economy. It's good for the environment. We need to get more cars off the road and more people into rail. But, as I said, what we don't have is Queensland state Labor stumping up with their $1.6 billion.

It reminds me of a situation when, once again, we led the path. We trailblazed, the member for Fairfax and I, our funding commitment for the duplication of the North Coast railway line. That was not on the cards with the state government. Once again, it was a QR project, Queensland Rail, but we offered to pay 50 per cent of that project. We didn't have to put a cent towards it, just like we didn't need to put a cent towards the Sunshine Coast rail. The only way that we seem to be able to get the Queensland Labor state government off their backsides to fund infrastructure in Queensland, particularly in areas like the Sunshine Coast, is if the federal government takes a leading role.

The member for Monash is looking at me, and I know exactly what he's thinking. He's thinking, 'This is rewarding bad behaviour, member for Fisher,' because that's exactly what we're doing. We are rewarding bad behaviour from a recalcitrant state government. The more money that we put into Queensland for Queensland state government projects, the less money that they put in. It's like rewarding a naughty child. What do they do? They keep doing it, and they keep getting a reward. But, if we didn't do that, the Queensland government would continue to not fund vital infrastructure projects.

It is a good thing that this Labor government stumped up and matched our funding. I am very appreciative of it, as is just about every person on the Sunshine Coast. Not only will it provide a link between the Sunshine Coast coastal strip and Brisbane; it will provide a vital link between the hinterland and the Sunshine Coast. It will provide 9,550 jobs over the next eight or so years. It will be the largest infrastructure project that the Sunshine Coast has ever seen. But what we don't have is the state government matching the federal government's commitment of their own $1.6 billion, to their eternal shame.

We cannot host the Olympics in 2032, partly in the Sunshine Coast, if we do not have this rail done. If the Queensland government wants to look a gift horse in the mouth, whether it's a coalition gift horse or a Labor government gift horse, this rail line will go the way of the Redcliffe rail line and probably take another 100 years to be built. If we're going to build this rail line, it needs to be done before 2032. My best advice, coming from the Department of Transport and Main Roads in Queensland, is that it's going to take about eight years to build it, so we have no time to spare. Get on with it, Mark Bailey, transport minister for Queensland. Stump up, come out publicly and say you're going to fund this $1.6 billion, and let's get on with it.

The Caloundra Labor state member should also be voicing his support for this project, as should the Nicklin Labor state member. These two Labor state members have said nothing on this project whatsoever, and it's about time they came out and publicly declared whether they are supportive of this project. If you're supportive, come out and support your communities. That's what your communities expect of an elected representative. Don't hide and wait until your government comes out and says what it's going to do. Be a leader. Push for change. Push the envelope, because that is what you are elected to do, whether it's in this place or whether it's in a state legislature or a council legislature: push the envelope and stick up for your people.

In relation to cost of living, which we heard so much about in the lead-up to this budget, I did my 'tour de Fisher', where I ride around my electorate. I did 23 listening posts on my pushbike—not my motorbike; I know you're thinking, 'Did he do it on his motorbike or did he do it on his pushbike?' I spoke to over 150 constituents in a week and I was asked by a radio station whilst I was doing tour de Fisher what the No. 1 burning issue was for locals in Fisher. I'll tell you what the No. 1 burning issue was: cost of living, cost of living, cost of living. It's all anybody wanted to talk about. We saw in the budget discussion about reducing power prices. When they went to the election, the Labor Party promised a $275 reduction in power prices. But when you dig into the budget papers, you see an acknowledgement from this Labor government that power prices are due to go up by 56 per cent over the next two years and gas prices are due to go up by 44 per cent over the next two years.

Nowhere since the election has the Prime Minister repeated his commitment for a reduction in electricity prices. He talked about this on 97 occasions prior to the election and not once since. And his own budget papers, the government's own budget papers, demonstrate that the prices of power and gas are going to go up by, in the case of power, more than 50 per cent—a 60 per cent increase in the gas price—and gas prices by 44 per cent. We estimate that people in my electorate will be paying more than $2,000 more by the end of Christmas for their cost of living than they would have been paying at the beginning of this year.

This government needs to work with industry to reduce power prices. It's not just a matter of pushing more renewables into the market. It's a matter of sensibly balancing renewables and other forms of energy. By all means look at nuclear energy, as the coalition government is doing. We're looking at nuclear energy. We're not demonising any form of energy, because we need to be able to keep the lights on. People are going to judge this government by how they manage their energy policy, and at the moment, as all our respective bills are showing, they are left wanting. So, there are some good things and there are certainly some bad things in this budget, and I'll continue to talk about them in this place. (Time expired)

3:53 pm

Photo of Joanne RyanJoanne Ryan (Lalor, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak in this appropriation bill cognate debate today, and it is my absolute pleasure to speak about the appropriation bills that deliver the Albanese Labor government's first budget. The budget delivered by the Treasurer in October sets out the priorities for this government, and those priorities match what we took to the election. The budget delivers responsible cost-of-living relief that doesn't put pressure on inflation. It makes targeted investments to build a stronger and more resilient economy and begins the hard yards of budget repair so that we can pay for what's important. The most important thing, I think, for members of my community, when I talk to them, is Labor's commitment to action on global warming and climate change, and passing the legislation that legislated that target, and the commitments that were made in the budget to make Australia a renewable powerhouse—the Powering Australia plan.

The budget established the $1.9 billion Powering the Regions Fund to support innovation in existing industries and the creation of new industries in regional areas. This is really important because as we transition it's often the regions where attention to job security is lacking. We need to ensure that, when moving into this renewable space, workers in the regions are looked after, and ensure that we create jobs in those regions. There is an $8.1 million fund over three years in this budget to progress research and support the commercialisation of seaweed as an emissions reducing livestock feed supplement; again, this is important for the regions. There is $95.6 million in funding over nine years to support 10,000 people to complete a New Energy Apprenticeship and the $9.6 million New Energy Skills Program.

This budget steps out how we will respond over time. It sets us up to make that transition to cleaner, cheaper energy, which in the longer term will impact on power prices. It has a $15 billion commitment to establish the National Reconstruction Fund, including up to $3 billion for the Powering Australia plan. This budget will introduce a $345 million electric car discount which exempts eligible electric cars from fringe benefits tax and the five per cent import tariff.

So the budget is thoughtful. It's thoughtful about how we're going to make this transition. It's thoughtful about incentivising the move to renewables so that we can have a speedy impact on that target for renewable energy and therefore a speedy impact on the target for global warming emissions reduction. There's a $14 million commitment over four years to conduct on-road emissions and fuel consumption testing of light vehicles sold in Australia, and the introduction of the Commonwealth fleet target to ensure its fleet purchases and leases will be 75 per cent electric by 2025. So it's a thoughtful budget in this space. It makes sure that we're moving in the right direction. In terms of electricity, it's established Rewiring the Nation with a $20 billion budget in low-cost finance to expand and modernise Australia's electricity grids at the lowest cost. It's also announced the first Rewiring the Nation electricity transmission investments to provide concessional financing for the Marinus Link between Tasmania and Victoria, offshore wind projects and renewable energy zones in Victoria and the Victoria-New South Wales interconnector, the KerangLink.

The budget is structured. It responds to the lack of action from those opposite over 10 years to ensure that Australia meets its commitments. It also ensures that in doing so we set ourselves up for that renewable future, that we become part of the solution and, in doing so, move forward. The budget also strengthens Medicare, another election commitment. The Australian government's budget begins the task of strengthening Medicare after a decade of cuts and neglect—and I know this on the ground through my community. The changes those opposite made to the distribution priority areas saw 30 per cent of GPs leave my community. Across the city of Wyndham—that's 300,000 people—30 per cent of our GPs left, putting extraordinary pressure on the health system, extraordinary pressure on families and extraordinary pressure on individuals to try and get to see a doctor.

Well, this budget has some of those answers. This budget establishes 50 Medicare urgent-care clinics, one of which will be in my community, taking pressure off our already overwhelmed emergency department at the Mercy Hospital for Women. Happily, we also have a state Labor commitment to an extra $100 million for that emergency department to double its size. This is really going to start work on the ground in my community.

We also have measures in this budget to make medicines cheaper. For the first time in the PBS's 75-year history, the maximum cost of general scripts under the PBS will fall. The maximum co-payment of $42.50 will drop to $30 from 1 January. This will be pleasing in a community like mine, where families may have more than one script that they're paying for each month, and it'll stop the pressure on them to have to make a decision about which script to fill and which script not to fill. That's important, obviously, in health.

The budget delivers in education. It delivers 480,000 fee-free TAFE places and 20,000 university places that will be targeted to communities like mine, to first-in-family students and to young people from low SES communities to pursue a higher education. These are important things in this budget to get this country back on track and to make sure that your postcode doesn't determine your life's outcomes or, in fact, your income.

It also includes our plan for cheaper child care, which in my community—which has the highest number of zero- to five-year-olds in early education in the country—will have a positive impact for over 10,000 families. Ten thousand families in my community will have savings here. It will also free up, it has been calculated, 37,000 effective full-time workers by allowing women to access a fourth or fifth day of work without having a financial penalty attached. It's an extraordinary piece that will help 1.26 million Australian families. It will have positive impacts in terms of gender equity. It will see women engage in the workforce more readily, and that will see, in communities like mine, families increasing their potential income.

It also works in terms of infrastructure. This budget makes a commitment of $2.57 billion to Victoria, a state that has been starved of infrastructure funds for nearly a decade by those opposite. This includes, most importantly in my local community, a $57 million contribution to build the Ison Road bridge, which will be matched by the state government. This will allow thousands of cars that currently go into Werribee to leave Werribee and go out to the M1. This means that, in areas like Jubilee, Wyndham Vale and Manor Lakes, people will be able to go straight over the Ison Road bridge and drop down onto the M1. So it will make commutes shorter, save people time and bust congestion through the centre of the city of Wyndham. This budget also commits $2.2 billion over five years to the Victorian government for the construction of the Suburban Rail Loop East project, and I know other members from Victoria will be very happy to see the impacts of that.

It's a budget that works for my local community. As well as that, Wyndham has been put back into the list of Distribution Priority Areas. We heard a question today in question time, the implication of which was that somehow the metropolitan area is robbing regions to do this. The fact of matter is that this government has also put in place steps to ensure that we can attract and retain doctors from overseas, not just into regional Australia but into areas like the area I represent, where we have high growth and high numbers of young families who suffer high impacts when they can't see a GP. So I thank Minister Butler for his commitment to a community like ours to ensure that those things are happening.

In terms of local commitments to my community, I also welcome a small but significant contribution to our Wyndham Interfaith Network: a $20,000 commitment to support our interfaith network to put back into place, post COVID, their annual dinner, where representatives from across our faith communities come together to share, to build understanding and to build cohesion. Then they take that back into those individual communities. They work together on projects to ensure that all our communities of faith are respected and engaged in ongoing conversations in communities like mine. It's a really important initiative and I absolutely welcome that that is listed in this budget.

We also have in this budget for my community a commitment to a toy library. There are 300,000 children between zero and five in Wyndham—the highest number of zero to five-year-olds in the country. There is a little pocket that I represent called Wyndham Vale that has incredibly intense numbers of zero to five-year-olds in our early learning centres and preschools. There's a $20,000 commitment here to assist the Wyndham City Council in establishing a second toy library, one specifically for Wyndham Vale, where those children will have access to quality toys and their parents, in joining the library, will also have access to a conversation, sharing and potentially opportunities to join other clubs and connect into our community. It's a small commitment, but it means an enormous amount in communities like mine where we are building communities every day, where people move into our new suburbs and new housing developments. Their first point of connection might be that early learning centre; it might be the library; it might be the toy library where those families started to connect.

Another local commitment is a commitment of $500,000 to the Werribee Central Sports Club to assist in their redevelopment of Galvin Park. For the club and the 800 families that engage in the Werribee Central Sports Club through football or netball or cricket and come together all weekend, summer or winter, that will make a huge difference. It's just one indicator of the way this government cares about the grassroots as much as it does the highlight figures.

There is also money in this budget for a commitment to assist in our local waterways. In new housing estates we are often now using the stormwater in creation of wetlands or putting water back into wetlands or natural creeks. This happens all over my electorate in every new housing development. The commitment is made by this government in this budget to support that waterway development, to ensure that we keep litter out of those waterways and to ensure that we are creating family-friendly spaces in all of our housing estates. So I'm really pleased about that commitment as well.

It's an important budget. It's a budget that puts down the indicators, if you like, and sets out the priorities of the Albanese Labor government. It's about bringing people together. It is about people coming together to look forward. It's a budget with a vision for the future. It's a budget that serves communities like mine as much as it serves communities across this country. It's a budget with attention to the regions as well as to the metropolitan areas. It's a budget that understands the way Australians live their lives. It's a budget that understands aspiration and doesn't punish it. It's a budget that understands that workers need a pay rise. It's a budget that delivers for all Australians.

4:09 pm

Colin Boyce (Flynn, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to make a contribution on the appropriation bills for 2022-23. When the Treasurer presented his speech at the end of October it did very little to address the serious issues in my electorate of Flynn. One of the main things I hear when travelling around the electorate is how much families are suffering from the cost-of-living crisis. Unfortunately this budget does nothing to address it. The average family is set to be worse off by at least $2,000 by Christmas. Grocery prices are eight per cent higher, not just because of natural disasters but also because of Labor-made disasters—scrapping, for example, ag visas. Supply has been slashed because farmers and processors are only working at around 60 per cent of workforce capacity, which has led to upward pressure at the checkout for families. Retail electricity prices are predicted to increase by 50 per cent, while the $275 reduction in electricity bills promised by the Labor government has now been scrapped. It's gone. Interest rates have already gone up and are predicted to go up further, which is ripping hundreds of dollars out of household budgets each month.

Labor's own budget forecasts that gas prices will skyrocket by 40 per cent in the next two years, yet they have provided no serious policy or investment to alleviate this price surge. The surest way to secure affordable and reliable gas is through increasing supply. Funding for gas exploration has been cut. Labor has gutted $31 million out of the exploration in the Cooper-Adavale basin plan, and it has removed $23 million from the Beetaloo by discounting the Beetaloo Cooperative Drilling Program. At the same time, in a blatant attempt to buy Green votes, Labor has showered the Environmental Defenders Office with an extra $9.6 million, opening the door for more vexatious court actions and lawfare to delay and stop new resource projects.

The only new change to the tax system announced in this budget is a new tax on investments. Labor's sneaky new tax will slug people who invest in their own savings and superannuation. Despite ruling out these changes before the election, Labor will hit retirees and investors with a new $555 million tax, depriving investors of franking credits which they had previously relied on.

Labor's budget has turned its back on families desperate to find childcare places in regional and rural areas. $4.7 billion in child care measures has been announced, but it doesn't help regional and rural families because it doesn't deliver any additional childcare places. In my electorate of Flynn, many families cannot find a childcare place for their child. This is preventing parents from returning to work sooner. Our communities need availability and accessibility, not just affordability.

There has been confirmation of cuts to or scrapping of programs: energy security and regional development plans, the Regional Accelerator Program, the Community Development Grants Program and the Building Better Regions Fund, the BBRF. Eight hundred and fifteen projects around Australia that were part of the BBRF have been scrapped. In October I visited the construction site of the Ivy Anderson aged-care project in Springsure, which received $4.1 million from the Building Better Regions Fund. This site is ready for foundation laying and construction. Depending on weather, the project will be completed in the first quarter of 2023. These nine one-bedroom residential units have been a long-time vision for the hardworking Ivy Anderson committee. Labor needs to tell our hardworking regional and rural communities why it's supporting their city mates before regional and rural Australia and turning its back on future projects just like the Ivy Anderson aged-care project.

We need rural and regional infrastructure to get produce from the paddock to port to pay the bills for this nation and improve our communities. I have previously used my time as the federal member for Flynn to speak out about serious logistical issues that are preventing the use of the port of Gladstone. The former member for Flynn Mr Ken O'Dowd secured $100 million for the port of Gladstone access project back on 3 April 2019 to provide an alternative route for heavy transport vehicles accessing the port of Gladstone. This $100 million is once again in this year's budget. However, the port of Gladstone project has not progressed, having been in the planning stages since 2020.

There are four bridges in the Gladstone area that have oversize, overweight and load restrictions put upon them. These bridges need to be repaired or replaced. They present huge logistical problems for the Queensland Labor government's proposed multibillion-dollar alternative renewable energy projects in Central Queensland. A few weeks ago, we saw a 250-tonne energy generator on its way to the Callide Power Station stranded at the port of Gladstone due to the bridges in the region having these size and weight restrictions upon them. This generator has now had to be loaded onto a barge and taken further up the port to Fishermans Landing. This is an absolute waste of time and resources. Even more disappointing, it could have been prevented.

Labor is taking the fun out of regional Queensland and Australia as well. The budget will not proceed with round 2 of the Agricultural Show Development Grants Program. This is a great disappointment, considering 30 regional shows are in the Flynn electorate. These shows are the very fabric of many of our regional communities. The October budget is scrapping $14 million over two years from 2022-23 for the partial reversal of the 2022-23 March budget measures titled Regional Accelerator Program establishment. The budget also mentions $2.8 million in savings for the partial reversal of agricultural shows and field days. The budgets says the funding will be redirected to fund other government priorities. The government does not prioritise regional and rural shows. It is stripping money out of regional Australia wherever it can.

Labor's budget has committed to increasing the heavy vehicle road user charge rate from 26.4c a litre to 27.2c a litre. This means truck drivers will be slugged an extra 0.8 per cent in tax for every litre of diesel fuel that they buy. Labor's agenda to treat regional Australia like a cash cow is a disgrace. However, the budget does include $80.7 million to support voluntary action by farmers to lower methane emissions. This includes $50 million for a National Soil Carbon Innovation Challenge to lower emissions through better soil management; $5.7 million for a national soil carbon data program to support partnerships, to improve data and low-cost alternatives for measuring soil carbon; and $20 million in a methane emissions reduction in livestock program for research into abatement and the productivity benefits of livestock feed technologies and the development of technologies to deliver low-emissions feed supplements to grazing animals. This plan does not stack up. This plan will force farmers to buy more expensive feed for their cattle, making farming more expensive. The result will be an increase in meat prices. Everyone's food bill will only grow under Labor. This is the start of another attack on farmers.

The coalition didn't sign up to a methane pledge, which called for a 30 per cent global reduction in methane emissions on 2020 levels by 2030. Signing the pledge goes against the agriculture sector's desire to grow to $100 billion by 2030. At a time when families are struggling with the cost of energy and mortgage repayments, this tax on the grazing industry will only push up food prices further. What activists want is an end to the beef industry and the grazing industry as a whole.

The budget also scraps $4.6 billion out of water projects by not proceeding with the Hells Gates Dam project in Queensland; deferring funding of $899.5 million over four years from Dungowan Dam and pipeline, Emu Swamp Dam and pipeline, Hughenden Irrigation scheme and the Wyangala Dam Wall Raising Project. This budget also did not match the coalition's commitment of $25 million towards the water supply for the critical development of a new industrial precinct 20 kilometres from Emerald at the Yamala Enterprise Area. The funding was to support the proposed Yamala Enterprise Area, an intermodal and industrial precinct to turbocharge Central Queensland's economy, creating more jobs and industries. Cuts to water programs are devastating and will impact on regional areas. The development of water assets is crucial to the future of the agriculture industry in Australia but this budget does not address this.

The Rockhampton Ring Road is a key piece of infrastructure. It is a project that will support the region's economy by improving freight efficiency, flood resilience and the capacity of the Bruce Highway, as well as improving road safety. Labor's budget confirmed that they will delay the $1.1 billion Rockhampton Ring Road project where tendering was almost complete and the work was due to begin in January 2023.

Central Queensland is the economic engine room of Australia and it needs to be supported with essential infrastructure to support the growth and development of this region. In the region there's the over $1 billion Shoalwater Bay Training Area and the Clarke Creek wind, solar and battery farm, and Rookwood Weir. With major projects like this, it is not acceptable for military tanks, over 100 wind turbines and oversized equipment to be travelling through the Rockhampton CBD. For the Clarke Creek windfarm each tower is 11 truckloads. This includes three blades, seven tower components and one Goldwind generator that weighs 108 tonnes. The biggest component is the synchronised condenser unit, which is a 220-tonne piece of equipment. There are 16 traffic lights through the central Rockhampton CBD which must have risers put under them, as load clearances have to be 6.2 metres. 100 wind turbines at 11 loads is 1,100 truck movements of oversized, overweight and overlength equipment. Three police will be assigned to each movement. It appears the federal Labor government are happy to strip critical funding from regional projects and pump the money into metropolitan areas. This is simply unacceptable. Enough delays—the federal government needs to cough up the funding for the Rockhampton Ring Road and get on with building it as soon as possible.

After the coalition delivered an $811.8 million connecting regional Australia initiative in March 2022, Labor's so-called Better Connectivity Plan for Regional and Rural Australia both axes and redirects funding from a number of important coalition programs. This Labor budget cut to regional communications at least $101 million over four years. The budget papers show that a $106 million program to boost the resilience of telecommunications infrastructure for natural disasters in vulnerable locations has been axed, with a much smaller allocation of $30.4 million made to the Department of Home Affairs for resilience initiatives including for telecommunications infrastructure. $30 million for various internet affordability measures for regional and rural communities has been cut to just $4.7 million. $5 million for emerging technology trials has been axed. $418 million for open access or multicarrier mobile expansion has been cut to $400 million. The Mobile Black Spot Program has been cut by $37.5 million, the lowest level of investment in that MBSP since 2015. Whilst adopting the coalition's plan to extend the Peri-Urban Mobile Program to regional cities, as the opposition called for, Labor is providing only half of the $78.5 million committed by the coalition.

It has been reported that the Boyne Tannum Sharks in my electorate of Flynn will receive only half of what Labor promised the club at the last election cycle. Even though Labor did ordinarily match the coalition's fully budgeted amount of $2.5 million to build the new clubhouse and facilities, they have decided not to honour this funding and reduced it to $1.3 million. Once again, Labor says one thing before the election and another thing after.

In conclusion, it is clear the Labor budget is one to appease metropolitan Australia and is not one for regional and rural Australia and particularly my electorate of Flynn.

4:22 pm

Louise Miller-Frost (Boothby, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise today to speak to the government's appropriation bill cognate debate. Budgets are about decisions. Unsurprisingly, this government is making different decisions to the last one. I'm delighted to speak on these bills because it has been nine long years that Australians—and I know the people of Boothby feel this—have had to sit through the missed opportunities and shortsighted politicking of the previous government's lacklustre budgets. This budget continues the mission and guiding principle of this government: to deliver on the commitments we made to the Australian people.

I and the government readily accept that there is a lot of work to do to build stronger communities. People are really doing it tough. During our campaign for Boothby, and indeed in my first speech to the House, I spoke of coming across residents living in makeshift accommodation. This was even before some of the cost-of-living challenges we know people are facing really took off, driven by our inflation challenge. So as the Treasurer said on budget night when delivering his budget statement, we face a significant challenge in finding ways to ease the very real cost-of-living pressures facing Australians while not making the challenge of inflation worse. This is not something that those opposite had to deal with in nine years, and it just shows how wasteful so much of their spending was. This budget delivers on productivity-boosting reforms, economic reform with a productivity dividend, as the Treasurer is fond of saying.

So, beyond bringing a sense of integrity, propriety and sense of the budget process, allow me to talk a little bit about what this budget delivers for Boothby. When I was running for the seat of Boothby it soon became clear to me that a top priority for many voters was access to good-quality, affordable and timely health care. We saw the importance of the issue in March this year at the South Australian election, where my friend South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas and his team ousted a one-term government—the first opposition to form government since the pandemic, which demonstrated just how stretched so many aspects of our health system are.

So I'm absolutely thrilled that included in this budget is funding towards a commitment that we announced during the campaign: the $400 million upgrade and expansion of the Flinders Medical Centre. Flinders, as it's known in Adelaide, is the major health precinct servicing Adelaide's southern suburbs and the Adelaide hills, and our joint commitment with the South Australian state government will see 160 extra beds, including 136 at Flinders Medical Centre and 24 at the nearby repatriation hospital. While ambulance ramping gets the front pages, we know it's a symptom of bed block, not the issue in and of itself. Most of the beds will be a single room, because we learned very clearly during the pandemic that single rooms help with infection control.

We will also be rebuilding the Margaret Tobin mental health facility, increasing the capacity of the intensive care unit, building additional operating theatres to increase capacity for emergency and elective surgery, and providing a new eye surgery clinic. We'll be upgrading and expanding medical imaging services and establishing the new 24 bed older persons unit as a hub for older persons health and wellbeing at repatriation. In addition to this we will be establishing an urgent-care clinic, one of 50 across the country. This one will be near the Flinders Medical Centre emergency department to take pressure off the ED. We want people who need after-hours care and who can't get into their GP to have somewhere to go, to get the help that they or their family or loved one needs. But we also want to make sure emergency departments can focus on emergencies. Flinders Medical Centre is the major tertiary medical institution for Boothby, Kingston and Mayo. And with the growth in the Adelaide southern suburbs, this commitment is very welcome.

We've also partnered with the South Australian government on a couple of major infrastructure projects that will change the daily experiences for some of our local residents. Whenever I speak to residents along the coast I hear complaints about the traffic on Brighton Road. Brighton Road is an important local road for seaside suburbs, but increasingly it has become a commuter route for people in the growing southern suburbs, represented by my friend the member for Kingston, making their way into the city. The announcement of an on-off ramp at Majors Road in the electorate of Kingston, which will enable commuter traffic to get off Brighton Road and onto the Southern Expressway, is a real win-win. Commuters will have a faster, more direct route into the city and back home again, and Brighton Road will be returned to local traffic. Credit to the South Australian and Labor government: the designs are out for consultation already, right now, and these designs are sensitive to a number of local concerns, minimising the impact on the nearby Glenthorne National Park, adjacent bike and walking trails, and other sporting facilities by having the rampworks almost entirely within road reserve. I know there's been some mischievous misinformation about the designs leafletted in the local suburb, so I would encourage Boothby and Kingston residents to have a look at the designs currently on the department of infrastructure website and let us know what you think.

Our other announcement is the often promised and never delivered Marion Road crossing tram grade separation, first announced by the former government in 2016 and then again in 2019. We are now working with the South Australian government to deliver it in this term. In rush-hour traffic, with high demand on trams, the boom gates are down about one-third of the time. This means the traffic flow on this major arterial road is blocked for 20 minutes out of every hour. This means that, between traffic lights and boom gates, sometimes only three to five cars can get through at a time—really frustrating. The South Australian Department of Infrastructure and Transport is currently undertaking site and ground investigations, and a design will be released for consultation.

Environmental issues were raised with me by a large number of groups and individuals during the campaign and continue to be very high priorities that I hear about in my electorate. As we're situated between the hills and the sea, Boothby has a number of creeks running through it, and many of these creeks, waterways and wetlands have been degraded over the decades and are clogged with woody weeds and other pests. A total of around $2 million, across a number of sites, primarily along Sturt River and Brown Hill and Keswick Creeks, will enable important habitats to be restored and re-established, including the oxbow bend at the Warriparinga Wetlands, an important Kaurna cultural site featuring scar trees and ancient earth-oven remnants. And it is great to see the Friends of Warriparinga, the Living Kaurna Cultural Centre and the City of Marion working together on restoring this site.

Last week I had the honour of showing the minister for emergency services around Blackwood and Belair to inspect the storm damage. Most of Adelaide and, indeed, a fair section of South Australia and as far up as Alice Springs in the Northern Territory were hit by cyclonic winds and thunderstorms. Many roads across Adelaide, but particularly those in these hills suburbs, were impassable. Cars were crushed, houses had trees through them and, of course, power lines and power poles were down. Some of these properties ended up being without power for between thee to six days. The clean-up will take much longer.

Of course, front and centre in the storm recovery were the local country Fire service and the State Emergency Service volunteers, working alongside Mitcham council, SA Police and of course SA Power Networks. These volunteers are such an important part of life in the hills suburbs. They respond to storm damage, to bushfires, to car crashes and to all sorts of emergencies. They train weekly to make sure that they are able to serve the community, and they drop everything and come running when the call goes out, day or night. In small communities, you often know the person whose house is on fire or whose car crash you are responding to, and that is an additional emotional strain. And, while they are out responding to such a call, as they did last week for the storm, their own properties or families may also be at risk. But they are ever-professional and committed. So I am particularly pleased about the commitment for two additional quick response vehicles for the Sturt group of the Country Fire Service, as well as additional funding for fuel-load reduction to prepare for the coming fire season and additional fire risk signage. I thank them for their service.

One of the hidden gems of Tonsley is the Tonsley Innovation Precinct. This former Mitsubishi car manufacturing site is now reinvented as a high-tech advanced manufacturing hub, home to Flinders University and Tonsley TAFE, as well as a myriad of other exciting high-tech businesses, such as Micro-X, Tesla, SAGE Automation and REDARC. I was on-site at Tonsley with the Minister for Skills and Training last week to announce 12,500 new TAFE places across South Australia, a fantastic step forward in addressing the skill shortage I hear about from every business I talk to, no matter what the sector, large or small. These new places start next year and will be in a range of industries that we are experiencing shortages in.

Similar announcements across Australia show that the Albanese labour government knows that we need a skilled workforce if we are going to meet the challenges of the future, take advantage of the opportunities that present themselves and give Australians the best careers, the best industries and the best lives they can have.

Of course, part of building back for the future we want—a future of advanced manufacturing and of industries born out of renewable energy and renewable industries—is looking to our universities. The Albanese Labor government has committed $10 million to the Factory of the Future, part of the Flinders University campus at Tonsley and a partnership with BAE Systems. This initiative will unlock 4,000 jobs over five years, supporting South Australian small and medium businesses to ready themselves for the defence supply chain through the use of automation, robotics and the expansion and modernisation of these supply chains. This exciting initiative will bring together education, industry and government, bridging the gap between research and development and commercialisation to boost the national economy.

Boothby is home to Adelaide's number one tourist attraction, Glenelg. Glenelg is a beachfront suburb, easily accessible from the city, with fantastic restaurants, a picturesque jetty and a Ferris wheel, and it is the site of many local cultural events, including the Remembrance Day and Anzac Day services, New Year's Eve fireworks, beach volleyball tournament and the like.

I should also give a shout out to the Glenelg Surf Life Saving Club. They seem to have forgotten me for their annual Cold Plunge fundraiser in the middle of winter. I confess I am somewhat grateful not to have experienced it again this year, but I'll be up for it next year! Anyone who grew up in Adelaide probably has memories of the Glenelg beachfront and the Jetty Road shops and restaurants. But Jetty Road is looking very tired. It hasn't been upgraded in many a year, and the pedestrian crossing at the bottom of Jetty Road is the busiest in Adelaide. So a $10 million upgrade to Jetty Road, specifically the area around the crossing, is very welcome. This will not only serve the people of Boothby; it will also serve the people of wider Adelaide and our tourist trade. I look forward to working with Holdfast Bay council and seeing their fantastic designs.

There are a number of other projects that I'm particularly excited to see come to fruition. There are those that meet specific needs for our local communities in Boothby, including sporting clubs and community groups. There are also national initiatives, which will benefit all Australians, including the cheaper child care initiative. Not only will it directly benefit families with young children; it will benefit us as a society through addressing women's economic inequality and a skilled workforce shortage.

Of course, most importantly, there are our plans to address climate change: Rewiring the Nation, the Marinus Link, offshore wind projects. In Boothby we will be the site of one of the community batteries in Edwardstown. Being able to give access to cheaper renewable power to those who otherwise would not be able to access it—renters, those in multistorey units without rooftop access and those who simply can't afford the upfront financial commitment—is an exciting step forward.

I would also like to comment on the Souths basketball stadium. Souths is a growing club that serves a large swathe of the Adelaide southern suburbs. They have played for several decades in what is colloquially called the shed. And it is a shed; it lets the wind in and it's really not fit for purpose for a growing club. They are having to turn away young children at the moment because they don't have capacity; they don't have enough stadium space for them to both train and play. We did open two new basketball courts in Mitchell Park in the last year, but they still have a shortage. Finally, they are getting the money they need to redevelop the shed and expand it. This is a really significant project for the City of Marion. It is in part of their sports precinct. We have a big oval next door, we have lacrosse and tennis, and an ice-skating rink will be going in there as well. So this is bringing everything together to help those in central Boothby have a full range of access to sporting and recreational facilities. I'm really pleased to be able to deliver for the Souths basketball club, and I look forward to a ribbon cutting in future years.

4:37 pm

Jenny Ware (Hughes, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the appropriation bills of 2022-23. These bills reflect all of the missed opportunities of the government's recent budget, missed opportunities for Australian families, missed opportunities for Australian businesses and missed opportunities for many of those who live within my electorate of Hughes.

What does this budget mean for real Australians? Just before the election the Prime Minister told Australians that they 'will be better off under a Labor government'. Today, on the six-month anniversary of the recent federal election, this statement by the Prime Minister is proving to be just plain wrong. Fundamentally, this bill does not address the integral issue which is facing our nation—the rapidly accelerating cost of living. This is now out of control. It does not even attempt to address Labor's own assumptions in its budget around rising inflation, rising interest rates and higher energy prices. I have been inundated by concerned Australians within my electorate of Hughes around these issues and other cost-of-living pressures.

The opposition has taken a responsible approach to this budget. We have not simply opposed every budget measure for the sake of it. There were some good measures in the budget, for which the government can be commended. They include the extension of the childcare subsidy to more Australian families; the commitment to reduce the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme co-payment to lower the cost of medicines for many Australians; the support for housing of our veterans; the initiatives to combat family violence; and the funding to help Australians recovering from devastating floods. However, the budget and these bills fail to address the underlying economic issues which are plaguing our country at the moment.

If we return briefly to the coalition's economic record, we see that, in May of this year, the Labor government inherited an economy that was the envy of most nations throughout the world. We emerged from the pandemic with debt lower than any other major advanced economy. This was as a result of the economic management over the previous seven years prior to the pandemic of 2020. Policies were implemented by the coalition government that kept our nation afloat. JobKeeper assisted one million businesses and kept four million Australians in jobs. The cash flow boost helped 620,000 businesses. On almost every economic and health measure, Australia was either world-leading or performed better than most other countries. Former prime minister Morrison and former treasurer Josh Frydenberg adopted a suite of measures that saved Australian businesses, saved Australian jobs and, in many cases, probably saved Australian lives. There are now 596,000 more Australians in jobs than prior to the pandemic. Other economies fared much worse than ours. This Labor government talks down our economy but could not name a single country whose position they would rather be in.

I take the opportunity to share some of the issues that have come out of a recent tour that I have done of a suburb within my electorate, the suburb of Engadine. There were recurring themes that came out of talking to these small businesses. Not only are small businesses facing issues with the cost of living; they are facing other issues, such as staff shortages, supply chain problems and other rising business costs—again, measures that simply were not addressed in the budget.

The successive interest rate rises that Australia has had since May of this year are impacting when, where and how Australians will spend their money. The reality of these increases is that they often take several months to flow through. They have now started to really flow through within the business community of Engadine. For example, Matt from Coota Valley Meats noted that interest rates have meant fewer people are coming in to buy premium meat. Australians are now buying more sausages rather than beef or lamb. Both Michael from Go Vita and Geoff from Engadine Newsagency said that business is much quieter than it was a year ago and that streets are quieter, probably due to the rising interest rates. Leo from Michele's Patisserie and Andy from Sydney Electric Bikes commented on how the interest rate rises have immediately lowered the number of customers that are coming through their doors. For many of these small businesses in Engadine, staffing and staff shortages are also a problem. Specialised staff are only one category that these small businesses are struggling with. For example, Caffe Pancetta and Mie Thai—two local businesses in Engadine—are both struggling to find qualified chefs to hire. Brush Hair Co manager, Julia, stated to me that there is a hairdresser shortage, so they are also turning away customers. There are no measures in this legislation to address the issues that were raised with me by Engadine's small businesses.

Regarding interest rates, the current cash rate is now 2.85 per cent, the highest official interest rate since 2014, with the rate of increase the highest since 1994. For the 3.5 million Australians with a mortgage, successive interest rate rises and uncontrolled inflation are crushing their quality of life. In my electorate of Hughes, the median house price sits at around $1.5 million. In 2021 the average monthly mortgage repayment in the Hughes electorate was $2,600 per month. However, this was when the RBA cash rate was very low, at only 0.1 per cent. As it stands today, mortgage holders in my electorate—families with a mortgage of $700,000, of which there are many—must now find an additional $1,000 per month for their repayments compared to earlier this year.

As stated, when Australians need to spend more on their mortgages they spend less at their local shops, their local businesses, contributing to the economic woes of our nation. As just indicated, I've given many examples of where I have seen this directly within my electorate.

Another missed opportunity was with energy costs and security. The government needed to address energy costs within this budget but has done so by simply saying that renewables are the answer. There is no evidence that renewable energy is the answer to all of our energy problems and the crisis that we currently face.

During the election campaign Australians were promised—promised by this government—cheaper energy under an Albanese government. Every household would be $275 better off, we were told. Instead, Labor's own budget numbers confirm that electricity prices are about to increase by more than 50 per cent and gas prices by more than 40 per cent.

Another missed opportunity of the appropriation bill was for tax reform. The coalition believes in a core principle that hardworking Australians should be rewarded by keeping more of what they earn. They can then choose how they spend the extra money. The coalition's stage 3 tax reforms would lower tax for more than 10 million Australians. The 37 per cent tax rate was to be abolished and the 32½ per cent tax rate reduced to only 30 per cent. Under Labor, under this bill and under its recent budget, Australians will instead pay $142 billion more in taxes over the next four years. The coalition's legislated tax plan futureproofed the incomes of Australians. Labor took the coalition's tax plan to the election with an unequivocal promise to not reverse it. Now the groundwork is well and truly being laid, within this bill, to break that promise. The 10 million Australians expecting tax relief next year to address the cost of living deserve far better than this.

The only new change to the tax system announced in this budget is a new tax on investments. Despite ruling out these changes before the election, Labor will hit retirees and investors with a new $555 million tax, depriving investors of franking credits which they had previously relied upon. This will particularly hurt our self-funded retirees, who, in responsibly saving for their own retirement, deserve better from the federal government.

Housing and housing affordability: another missed opportunity, in this bill and within the budget, was with respect to a major crisis, which is the affordability of housing within this country. Australia has long been a place where land and country have been deeply personal and an underpinning tenet of our identity. On the housing continuum, private home ownership is vital. When more Australians own their own homes, government is better able to assist with crisis and emergency accommodation, with housing our youth homeless, with assisting victims of family violence. Today it has become harder than ever for Australians to purchase their own home. Of particular concern to me is Australian women who separate later in life, usually with little superannuation. They are left with fewer housing options and are now increasingly being left homeless.

In the late sixties, 72 per cent of Australians owned their own homes. In 2019 that was down to just below 62 per cent. Housing is important. It's crucial to meeting our basic needs. It should provide safety, privacy, security, a place to sleep, a place to eat, a place to raise a family and a place sometimes to simply hide from the world. In terms of the cost, in real terms now, in 1984 the average Australian could buy a home at 3.3 times the annual income. Now, it is 10 times what the average Australian earns in a year.

The two main issues that affect housing affordability in this country are the difficulties of saving for a deposit and the lack of supply. It used to take months to save for a deposit; it now takes an average of 11½ years. To address this, the coalition took to the last election a policy where Australians could access their superannuation—their own money—to assist them to buy their first home. This budget and these bills show that the Labor government proposes that homeowners have shared equity in their home with the government. Instead of Australians being able to use their own superannuation, their own savings, to invest in their own home, superannuation funds will now be used to invest in someone else's home. With super funds far less transparent than they used to be, we will never know exactly how it is that the super companies are investing in other people's homes.

Instead of tinkering around with superannuation, the Labor government could and should have adopted some measures to incentivise state and local governments to jointly address the real issues with housing through planning and density controls, taxation changes and stamp duty. This Labor government, in this legislation and in the budget, has promised one million additional homes in five years. I've worked in and around and advised the housing and construction industry as well as local government for most of my career. This promise is simply not realistic. It cannot be delivered. It won't be delivered. Where are these houses going to be located, and, with the current skills shortage in the construction industry, how are 200,000 additional homes going to be built each year? These one million homes will never be delivered. This was yet another missed opportunity to address a national crisis.

Lastly, I wish to highlight two important projects for my electorate that are missing from this budget. I'm proud to have campaigned at the recent election for upgrades to Heathcote Road in my electorate. Heathcote Road serves as a major arterial road, connecting Heathcote in the east to Wattle Grove and Moorebank in the west. It can be a deathtrap, with single lanes for most of its 18 kilometres. I helped during the campaign to deliver a Commonwealth contribution of $94 million to the duplication of Heathcote Road. However, money that was pledged for additional future infrastructure funding is missing from this budget. Additionally, I campaigned for $1.5 million to improve the female amenities within the Harrie Denning football centre, within the Sutherland Shire. That was $1.5 million for women's sport. This money is also missing from the federal budget.

To conclude, the Labor government has missed a vital opportunity in this legislation and this budget to address serious economic issues.

4:52 pm

Photo of Alicia PayneAlicia Payne (Canberra, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I'm very proud today to rise to speak on the appropriation bills of 2022-23 and on the Labor government's budget and the many things that it invests in for our nation and for the Australian people.

In the early 2000s, American singer-songwriter Steve Earle said that he wouldn't write another love song as long as George W Bush was in the White House. I must admit I often thought about that during the last term in opposition when I came in here to give speeches, and they were usually pretty negative. I would be coming in here giving speeches crying out for action on climate change, on the aged-care crisis and on the economy, and calling on the then government to deliver on its promise of a national anticorruption commission and many other issues. It did often feel that I would never get to give a positive speech until there was a change of government.

It is very good that in the last six months—and this week marks six months since our government was elected—we've been able to come in and talk about the promises on which we are delivering for the Australian people. I think it's fair to say that the previous government had ceased to deliver for Australians that were not at the heart of their decision-making. They were not taking responsibility for the issues that the Australian people were facing: the fact that they hadn't had a wage rise in over 10 years; the cost-of-living crisis that they were facing; the climate crisis that our world is facing, and Australia's failure to be a part of that solution; and the neglect that people in aged care were facing that a royal commission had laid bare and that a government, over a decade, had failed to address. So I'm very proud of the work that we have done in the last six months and in the budget that we handed down recently to deliver on those things. We're not wasting a minute in government. Our ministers and our Prime Minister have been working day and night, with the support of the Public Service, to get things underway to address some of these issues.

One of our first actions in government was to legislate our climate targets to reduce Australia's carbon emissions by 43 per cent by 2030, and our plans to do that are underway. We very quickly signed the international agreements around those, and we've obviously been doing a lot of work to reset important international relationships, including our Prime Minister being part of several successful summits in the past week.

The first bill that passed the parliament was urgent reforms to aged care: delivering more care minutes for people in aged care, delivering the requirement that we have 24-hour registered nurses in aged care, and other reforms. We were also very pleased that, following a submission from our government, the Fair Work Commission has delivered an increase of 15 per cent to aged-care workers, who have been underpaid for so long.

Another thing we did very early on was introduce 10 days of paid domestic violence leave for all Australian workers. People in unions and workers had fought for this for many, many years. It was a long overdue reform because no-one should have to choose between being safe and getting paid so as to pay their rent or put food on the table.

Our government has also been progressing the conversation about the Uluru Statement from the Heart. I am incredibly proud that our government is serious about seeing that delivered, including a Voice to Parliament enshrined in the Constitution, and that we are doing that work.

But to be a part of a progressive government, to be part of a Labor government, means there is always more to do, because we really are the party of reform and the party that, when in government, have delivered the reforms that have brought our nation into the future and delivered the things that give Australians the best shot at their own futures, giving them opportunities and making sure that no-one is left behind. The work that we lay down in this budget is a very important part of that.

It is a budget that builds a stronger and more resilient modern economy, and it invests in the capabilities of Australians. It invests in 180,000 new fee-free TAFE and vocational education places. It invests in 20,000 new university places over the next two years. It includes a comprehensive strategy to address the gender pay gap, which includes important industrial relations reforms that we are working on in this final sitting fortnight to get through this parliament, because they are about getting wages moving again. Australians have been waiting too long for a wage increase, particularly women. And our gender pay gap of around 14 per cent is too high. We have slipped in international rankings on gender equality in this country, and that is shameful. I'm very proud that our government is getting on with addressing that and has a plan to get there.

This is a budget that invests in unprecedented levels in renewable energy: Rewiring the Nation, the Marinus Link—there are many things, which I will not list here, where our government is putting in place what we need to make that shift to become a renewable energy superpower, to use that term. This will also bring electricity prices down. This is what needs to happen, and the ACT, where my electorate is, is a great example of this. The ACT government have transitioned our energy market to 100 per cent renewable energy, and we actually enjoy lower electricity prices than neighbouring New South Wales because of that. This is the long-term work that our energy market needs to have stability and to bring those prices down, and that is a very high priority of our government.

This is a budget that invests in a future made in Australia, including $15 billion for the National Reconstruction Fund, an investment pipeline of $120 billion in transport infrastructure, expanding access to the NBN and improving mobile coverage. It's a budget that supports small business, and it allows older Australians to keep more of their pension when they work.

It has provided more funding and more staff to slash the visa backlog. It is another shameful area of neglect under the previous government that this backlog was allowed to balloon to the level where it is. People have been waiting completely unacceptable amounts of time to get visas approved, and this is something that my constituents raise with me very frequently, so I was very pleased to hear that we are investing that extra money to get extra staff onto that important work.

It's a budget that improves our disaster resilience and preparedness. This is very important at the moment as yet again, with floods, we see many Australians battling natural disasters, which is just terrible. And there are investments, of course, to protect our precious environment.

Our budget delivers meaningful cost-of-living relief through a five-point cost-of-living plan. A major part of that is cheaper child care, and this was a huge part of our election platform and something that I know families all around Australia, including in my community of Canberra, have been desperately waiting for, because the costs of child care have been rising and rising. Here in Canberra we have some of the highest average childcare fees in the country. So this policy, which will be debated in the Senate in this final fortnight, will deliver more affordable child care to 1.26 million Australian families. It will benefit, I think, around 97 per cent of Australian families, and no-one will be worse off. It's a really important investment and, again, is good for gender equality, because it is usually the woman who decides that she can't increase how much she works, because she simply can't afford it, which in the long term means that she will earn less, potentially leading to a lower income in her retirement. So this is an important part of that as well.

Our budget expands paid parental leave to six months, another thing that I know many parents will welcome—to have some extra time with their new baby at that very important time for families. This is another great Labor reform. Labor proudly introduced our first Paid Parental Leave scheme when Jenny Macklin, who I had the honour of working for previously, was the minister for social services. She led that reform, which for many women was the first time that they had access to any paid leave when they had a child. Anyone who is a parent knows just how important that time is for the health of the baby and the mother. It is really important bonding time.

This leave can be shared by both parents, which is very important. The Women's Economic Equality Taskforce are continuing to look at how we can ensure that parents are really encouraged to share that, and I think this is an incredibly important thing. We'll look at how this policy can encourage more dads to take more time out when they welcome a new baby into their family. I think that ultimately we really need taking time out of the workforce to be supported and seen as normal for both parents if we are ever going to genuinely achieve gender equality in the workplace.

Another incredibly important thing that we are using this final fortnight to do is the industrial relations reforms I mentioned earlier. This is about getting wages moving for Australians who have been waiting too long for a much-needed pay rise. I mentioned earlier that we've managed to secure an increase for aged-care workers, but we need it go beyond sector-by-sector increases; we need to bring our workplace relations system into a more modern era, and we need to ensure people have secure work. We saw through the pandemic just how damaging it can be when people don't have security in their jobs. Increasingly, Australians do not have the secure jobs they had in the past. This is about ensuring people have a job—one that they know will be there to support their families and themselves.

Housing is an incredibly important part of our budget as well. It included $10 billion to build 40,000 homes through the Housing Australia Future Fund. We've also committed to doing a long-term plan around a housing and homelessness national strategy, which is so important because these are issues facing our whole nation. Particularly in Canberra we see more and more people facing issues of homelessness and housing insecurity, and we see rising costs of both renting and buying. It is something that really needs the work to go into it to get it right, and I'm really proud our government is doing that.

I'm proud to say too that this is an excellent budget for Canberra. Many of the things I've mentioned are the things Canberrans know are important for our nation—investment in renewable energy, cheaper child care not only so more young Australians can access great early childhood education but also so more parents can be involved in the workforce if they want to be—but there are a lot of local commitments we are delivering for Canberra as well. The budget includes $15 million to upgrade the Australian Institute of Sport arena, which I know Canberrans will be thrilled to see operating again, with the sorts of sporting and entertainment events we have missed while that has been closed. It delivers $85.9 million in funding for stage 2A of our Canberra light rail; $5 million to upgrade the Gorman House Arts Centre—again, a much-loved precinct in the ACT that provides an opportunity for community and arts events, and it is really important to get that up to scratch; and $5 million for the Garden City cycle route, which will enable more Canberrans to cycle safely to work.

We're also investing to restore Canberra's urban waterways. I was really pleased to work on the proposal for that with our local Landcare groups—volunteers who are out there every weekend looking after our natural spaces—and to support the incredible work they do. We're investing $10 million to build a youth foyer at the Woden CIT campus which will support young Canberrans to combine study and— (Time expired)

5:07 pm

Photo of Russell BroadbentRussell Broadbent (Monash, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023 and the associated bills. I cannot stand today without identifying very closely with those who are suffering down the east coast of Australia, through the enormous floods they are facing in their communities and the damage being done not only to their homes and businesses but to their farms, properties, roads and infrastructure. I am speaking to them now: I want you to know that your local members are drawing to the attention of this parliament your plight and your needs. I see the worry in their faces and I know they're working on your behalf today. I identify with you. I know you've got some struggles ahead of you in the clean-up that you will face once this flood threat has ended, and I know it will be quite a way into the future before you'll be out of trouble, but the sun will shine again, the sun will rise again and you will prosper again into the future.

Having said that, I also want to say this place can be a cruel, harsh place. I've said many times it's hard to get into, it's hard to stay here and it's easy to be thrown out. I want to mention the members who were defeated—the former members for Kooyong, Mackellar, Goldstein, Higgins, Hasluck, Curtin, Wentworth and Tangney, all of them good people and good friends of mine. The to-ing and fro-ing, the ups and downs of politics in Australia, throws up some unexpected events. That's what's happened in this case. So I wish every one of those members well and I thank them for their service. It can be difficult. I hope they do what I've done in the past and come back again.

I've listed the elections I've been in: 1984, 1987, 1990, 1993, 1996, 1998, 2004, 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019 and 2022. The last one was probably equally one of the hardest election campaigns I've ever been through. But I do sincerely thank the people who have helped me get through all of those years from 1984 to here, representative of my staff and my family, but particularly in this last election Karlee, Alyce, Stephanie, Alex, Ash, Vanessa and Tanya. My grateful thanks to all of you for carrying me through the last election campaign, when the Russ bus was on the road again. I didn't want to put the Russ bus on the road again, but that was the expectation of the electorate—that the Russ bus would be on the road—and it was. And we were successful, so thank you. You've only known success. Others that have gone before you have known defeat on many occasions—too many occasions. Adding to that of course was Gary Blackwood, Matt, Kaye and Millie McLean. To all of you, thank you for your support during that election campaign. And my family, of course—Bron, Emily, Paul and Evan, who have been there through the 1984 election campaign and every election campaign since. I think the last one exhausted them greatly.

Through those times we've had not only the floods that we are experiencing now; we've had fires, drought and COVID. They've all had huge impacts on my electorate. Times of drought have probably been some of the hardest times we've had. We haven't had one drought; we've had a number of droughts. Fires, of course, have torn my electorate to pieces over those years. We've had a number of serious fires in that time. We've had our own floods at different times in our area. The last one, being COVID, was an absolute destroyer and destructor of businesses because of the way it was handled by our state government. I think we had the longest lockdowns of any state in the world. That destroyed and damaged a lot of businesses—people and their operations. And, of course, all those who refused to be vaccinated lost their jobs. That was a tragedy for a lot of people—such discrimination.

In that process, political parties play a very important role, and that is my team that carries me through, again. I say 'carries me through' because I mean it! These are the people that do the work in the background for you—the Mary Aldreds, the Wayne Farnharms and the Andrew Ronalds, who chaired my electorate committee through all those times. These are the people that raise the money while we're doing our political jobs. They're the people that pull the volunteers together, the people that man the booths, the people that get out and talk on your behalf. Without them, I wouldn't be here. So I thank them all. I'm sure I've missed people that I should have mentioned in that process, but I thank every one of them.

I particularly thank Gary Blackwood, MLA, member for Narracan. I should mention at this point that there has been a tragedy in the electorate of Narracan, where one of the candidates has sadly died. So I just want to tell the people of Narracan that my understanding is that you will still be going to vote on Saturday, but it will be for the upper house only, not the lower house, and a new writ will be issued for an election to be held at a date to be announced. These are the twists and turns of politics. Gary Blackwood, the MLA for Narracan, has just resigned after his tenure as the member for Narracan. Gary has been a very strong and consistent advocate for the industry that he grew up in, the logging industry. He's a fourth-generation logger that went into the parliament to support native logging in our area. It was such an important engine room of economic activity and so important to Victoria. I go all the way back to our regional forest agreements. We came to those agreements, but there are those these days who want to ignore those agreements that took an enormous amount of courage by the Howard government at the time, working with the unions, to come to a place where we could all accept reasonable logging of our native forests, which are a great resource for us. We get some criticism for that today, but I think I will stand the criticism, knowing how important it is that we have our own forest product resources and we're not relying on those resources coming from countries that do not have the oversight and environmental conditions that we have in this country.

Over that time, I've seen lots of members come and go in this House—some long-serving members, some very short serving members. I was a 'oncer' twice in this place; that's very hard to do. The other thing I've found very hard in my time in this place is that I've been offside with every leader that I've had, except this last one. We're going quite well at the moment; we haven't spoken yet! I expect to be very supportive of Mr Dutton in his role and of the other members of the opposition. The opposition have a very important role to play. It's to call governments to account. I hope that we will be a diligent opposition in calling the government to account on every occasion, like with these new IR laws. I'm sorry, but they're going to damage small businesses.

I live small business. I'm at a small business, a microbusiness. I think at my peak I had 23 to 27 employees. It could have been a few more—part-timers. But we didn't have a big HR department. We just had to work through it ourselves and work with our employees—with our employees—because employees in your business are the gold of your business. You can have the right product, you can have the right display—you can have the best window display you've ever done; you can be an artiste—but unless you've got the staff that can carry you, and I say 'carry you' again, because I couldn't be in every shop that I owned, so I had to rely on good people to communicate with their customers to increase the volume of our sales.

That's how we did it—with really good people, working their flexible hours. They were nearly all women, except for a few over the years. But we were entirely flexible. We always paid over the award. And, if someone wanted to start work after the children went to school and leave the workplace before they got home, we accommodated that because they were employees that were worth having. When you have employees that are worth having, you cherish those employees. I think that's what's missing in this whole debate—how important the employees are. To pay good wages, you've got to have a good business. You've got to have a good turnover. You've got to make things happen. You've got to grow all the time. And, to increase your number of employees, you've got to grow your business. That's the only way it works. In this country, small and medium-sized businesses are the driver of the economy. Everybody else can talk about what they do, but, in this country, small businesses are crucial to our health and wellbeing as a nation.

Having said that, today is an important time in the parliament because these are the last two weeks of the year that the parliament is sitting. There are a number of issues across the nation that people are considering. I've always said to my own party, and I'll say it again: no matter what political pressure is placed on you, if it's bad legislation you don't vote for it. Even if you're going to suffer political consequences from the two-second grab they're going to attack you with, if you think about the long-term consequences of legislation in this place and you see that it's bad legislation, you should walk away from that bad legislation or at least voice your opinion so the public knows where you stand on any given legislation—even integrity legislation. What? You can't criticise it, you can't touch it, because it's about integrity? Well, this place and the things we do in everyday life are far more complicated, like getting gender pay quality in the workplace. It's not just about saying, 'We'll just make it happen,' because you can't just make it happen, because every family, every woman and every operation is different. People make choices. Women make choices. One of our members mentioned in the other chamber today that she decided to give up her legal practice to look after her twin boys and raise them, and that's what she did. That was her choice.

But it does have an effect, a rather large effect, on women as they go through the years. In Australia, one of the largest cohorts of disadvantage is women over 55 becoming homeless, and it's growing. In a nation as wealthy as we are, we have a responsibility as parliamentarians to change that around and have the graph going the other way. So we've got to find a way to make sure that that cohort, because of what's happened in their lives, because of their access to superannuation, because there may have been changes in their lives, because they don't have the access to work—there is age discrimination in this country. You try and get a job when you're over 55 or when you're 60 or 65. You don't even get on the list. And people say, 'Oh, no, we don't discriminate on age.' Of course they do. I've been there. It's hard to get a job when you're in that age bracket and you're not up to pension age.

So we have to find new, innovative ways to make sure that that cohort that is dear to us, women over 55—they're part of the generation that has grown this country. They've had the children. They've made things happen. They've volunteered. They've taken their kids to sport. They've done all of those things, and their children are up and running, but then they find themselves, quite often through no fault of their own, in difficult circumstances. So we've got to find new and innovative ways to address that issue. That's one of my passions, and it has been all the way through.

I'd love to talk about disability and the NDIS, but I'm not going to have time today. This nation, through its parliamentary representatives, has to grapple with the issues that are important to everyday Australians who are out there in families today, because they're important to us. There's nothing wrong with talking about a nuclear family. There's nothing wrong with talking about mum and dad and the kids. And, if I'm out of order, I'll take the stand: I'm out of order, because I don't care how you describe your family. Whether you're a single mum bringing up a child or you're in a large family with 14 children, we need to focus on those family groups, because they are the basis of our economy. They hold it together.

These are some of the cohesive parts of the nation that I've seen since 1984, which I mentioned before, and they have not had the prominence, I believe, since the early Howard years, that they should have had. Thank you.

Photo of Scott BuchholzScott Buchholz (Wright, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the honourable member for his contribution and particularly the part of the contribution where he spoke of his years of contribution to this place. The place is a better place when you're in it, the honourable member for Monash. I give the call to another wonderful member, the honourable member for Fenner.

5:23 pm

Photo of Andrew LeighAndrew Leigh (Fenner, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister for Competition, Charities and Treasury) Share this | | Hansard source

I am pleased to rise to speak on the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023, a bill which reflects on the contributions of the Albanese government in taking action on climate change; beginning to make some of the much-needed investments into housing; and recognising the importance of fixing up parts of our education system that are not working as well as they can. This is a budget which deals with some of the rorts and mismanagement that have been locked in under nine lost years of coalition government. It is a budget which makes an investment in Australians' future.

I want to talk about much of that, but I want to anchor it in the aspirations, interests and commitments of some young Canberrans. I want to do so through an interesting initiative, the Raise Our Voice Australia initiative. Raise Our Voice is a volunteer-run organisation that seeks to amplify diverse young, female, trans and non-binary voices to actively lead conversations in politics and in domestic and foreign policy. They've asked me to amplify the voices of young people from Fenner by reading their words in this parliament. So I'm going to begin my speech today with speeches from four young Australians, beginning with Amelie Toogood, nine years old. Amelie says as follows:

I am Amelie Toogood, age nine, from the electorate of Fenner in the ACT. I would like the new parliament of Australia to pay more notice to leptospirosis, a deadly disease that makes many dogs sick every year. Dogs catch leptospirosis by playing in and drinking infected water. It is currently prevalent in the ACT as well as in New South Wales and Queensland. As of the thirtieth of June this year thirty eight dogs are known to have contracted leptospirosis in Canberra, with twenty seven of them, seventy one percent, having died or had to be euthanised.

Amelie goes on:

I moved to Canberra in January this year, and last month my dog moved from Cairns to Canberra to live with me. Since my dog, Jasmine, moved to Canberra I have been very worried about her. I am worried because of all the rain increasing the chance of her catching leptospirosis. Leptospirosis is found throughout Australia but it was only recently prevalent in Canberra. As leptospirosis is only new in Canberra many people don't know about it, don't know the symptoms and don't know how to help keep their dogs safe.

I call upon the new parliament of Australia to provide greater information to the people of this great nation about and to fund more research into leptospirosis. This information and research will help protect the approximately 5.5 million pet dogs that are loved by families across this country.

The second speech comes from Elsie Toogood, aged 11. She begins:

I am Elsie Toogood, age 11, and I live in the electorate of Fenner in the A.C.T.

I want the new parliament to have courage, courage not unlike activists. Women's rights activists such as Malala Yousafzai, who fought for girls' rights to go to school in Pakistan, and Annie Roiphe, the first-generation feminist and author of Up the Sandbox. Education activists, such as Julia Gillard, Australia's first female Prime Minister, who has devoted herself to educational equality. She is now the Chair on the Board of Global Partnership for Education. Racial equality activists are also an important factor in the world of activists. One of the first Black activists was Philip Randolph who was a labor leader and civil rights activist who founded the BSCP, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, the U.S. nations first major labor union.

Elsie goes on:

These people were brave and stood up for what they thought was right. Though they all fought for different things, they all had one thing in common, courage. They would bounce back from challenges and defend their thoughts and beliefs.

They all inspire me very much, though all in different ways and I would love to meet any one of them.

In summary, I think activists are some of the most brave and courageous people I can think of, and I want to be just like them one day. I want to have the courage to do what is right in this world, and I hope that the new parliament has the courage to use their power for gender-equality, racial-equality and equal educational outcomes for all children in Australia.

The third speech comes from Isabella Gooding, age 15. She says:

A successful future for Australia is one that improves on the advocacy for human rights. My name is Isabella Gooding, I am 15 years old and I live in Canberra. When I became an Australian citizen in 2020, I was taught about the values of, mateship and egalitarianism.

When applied, these principles build a fair and cohesive society. We must face the fact that these principles are not sufficiently afforded to marginalised groups in our nation. There is significant underrepresentation of refugees, first nations people and other minorities. Integration of diversity should be a natural part of Australian culture.

Isabella goes on:

To bridge the indisputable gap, I propose that an opportunity is presented for marginalised groups to have their voices heard through the Australian Parliament. The raise our voice program provides an opportunity to bring representation of young, diverse perspectives. I believe that parliament should consider engaging in similar processes to hear from other sectors of society that lack substantial representation in the seat of power.

The purpose of democracy is to give everyone an equal voice. This can only be achieved through greater acknowledgement of minorities. In hearing diverse voices, we open a pathway to empathy. At the end of the day, parliamentarian or socially disadvantaged person, we are all human. I aspire to see an Australia where mateship and egalitarianism are extended to all.

The fourth speech comes from Isabelle Calder, aged 17. Isabelle says:

The Government has pledged to create more respectful workplaces, although when watching Parliamentary meetings, there is great disrespect amongst some politicians.

My name is Isabelle Calder and I am 17 years old, living in the Fenner electorate. I believe that in order to successfully achieve respectful workplaces in Australia, we need to focus on the role models everyone watches.

MPs and Senators are leaders. Leaders for children, leaders for adults and workplaces, and leaders who drive the country we want to become.

Isabelle continues:

At my workplace we are expected to abide by a formal code of conduct, something Parliament is yet to implement. Respect everyone, do not talk over others, do not yell at others, be tolerant and inclusive, listen to other people's opinions and if you feel the need, respectfully disagree and politely bring up your own point. These are common and quite frankly, bare minimum expectations in the workplace. However time after time I have watched politicians yell at each other, talk over each other and disrespect each other. The leaders' behaviour in our country ultimately sets a precedent, not only for how Australians can treat each other, but also how other countries can treat us. It is time for leaders to have consequences for their poor behaviour as no one is above respect, especially those whose voices are already amplified.

I want to thank Amelie, Elsie, Isabella and Isabelle for these extraordinary words, which confirm my optimistic view of the future of the country, especially the role of young women in shaping a better Australia. We do need to shape a better tone for politics in this country. I pay tribute to the work that the member for Newcastle and her committee are doing in order to shape a code of conduct for this place, to change the tone of politics and to ensure a more diverse parliament. It is one of the strengths of this government that, for the first time, a major party has a majority of women in our party room. In the Labor Party room, there are 103 members, of whom 54 are women. That makes a substantial difference to the role that women play in the debates in the Labor Party room.

I also want to encourage one other extraordinary woman in our community. Thirty-eight-year-old Susan Marshall, who works at the My Rainbow Dreams cafe in Dickson, recently became the first woman to cross the line in New York in the Sri Chinmoy 3,100-Mile Self-Transcendence Race. That's 3,100 miles, which is a little short of 5,000 kilometres. Susan finished in 50 days and 16 hours, which means that, over that period, she ran just a shade under 100 kilometres a day. The Sri Chinmoy 3,100-mile race has been held for 26 years, and, in that time, only nine women have finished. Indeed, considerably fewer women, and considerably fewer men, have ever finished the world's longest foot race than have summitted Mount Everest, which is why it is known as the Everest of ultrarunning. Susan is from New Zealand, but, as we do with Russell Crowe, we'll happily claim her! I want to acknowledge her and her support crew, particularly Prachar Stegemann, for the work that they did in getting Susan across the line and for inspiring the rest of us runners. I once ran a 100-kilometre race in Canberra with Susan, but now I realise that was literally just a day's work for her. Susan said, 'When people accomplish anything, we also have a recognition that we also have the potential.' She hopes that it inspires others to see that their potential is greater than they might have envisaged.

The Appropriations Bill (No. 1) 2022-2023 deals with investments in Australia, including investments in the national capital. After the previous budget, which saw the ACT get just one-fifth of our fair share of infrastructure spending, this budget ensured that the ACT received our decent share of infrastructure spending. The flagship infrastructure project was an investment of $86 million to fund Canberra Light Rail Stage 2A, in partnership with the ACT government. But we also invested $10 million for the Youth Foyer at the Woden CIT campus; $5 million towards the Garden City Cycle Route; $5 million for the Gorman Arts Centre upgrade; and $50 million to reopen and improve the AIS Arena.

There will be a new National Security Office Precinct in Barton, which will accommodate some 5,000 staff, new retail and hospitality amenities and new structured car parking around the Parliamentary Triangle, creating thousands of construction jobs during the period 2023 to 2028. You can think of this as business infill in the Parliamentary Triangle, and it will be important in creating more opportunities for people who work in the Parliamentary Triangle to shop and eat close to their place of work.

The Albanese government has an entirely different approach to the Public Service to the one the former government had. The former government literally decimated the Australian Public Service, with more than one in 10 public servants losing their job. Our approach is quite different. It's to invest in the Public Service, to scale back on the unnecessary consultants and contractors that have proliferated under the former government. Yes, there will be a place for consultants and contractors, but we need to develop core APS capacity. The work being done by Minister Gallagher, as Public Service minister, is critical in investing in a strong and effective Public Service. We see this in a whole host of agencies, with the removal of the arbitrary staffing cap and the recognition of the necessity of building up professional streams across the Public Service.

In the area of visa processing, we are putting more staff into frontline visa processing. We came to office with a visa backlog of one million. We've processed three million visas and now got that visa backlog down below 800,000. But it is a big issue for business. It's one of the top issues that arises in the many business forums that I speak at. We've provided additional funding of $42 million to accelerate visa processing, reduce the visa backlog and raise awareness of opportunities for high-skilled migrants in Australia's permanent migration program. Migration is something that can boost employment opportunities for Australian residents where key workers are coming in. It can boost the economic capacity of businesses. It is absolutely critical to Australia, because all of us except Indigenous Australians are migrants or the descendants of migrants, and the migrant legacy is an important part of Australia's national identity.

The budget announced a National Housing Accord which will go a long way to addressing the supply and affordability of housing in the ACT. It delivers $350 million of additional federal funding to deliver 10,000 affordable homes over five years from 2024, on top of our election commitments.

A key issue for my constituents in Fenner is climate change. After nine years of inaction, we've enshrined an emissions reduction target of 43 per cent by 2030 and net zero by 2050. The 'restoring the Climate Change Authority' budget measure provides that authority with an additional $42.6 million over four years from 2022 to 2023. We are announcing an annual climate change statement to parliament and increasing transparency around climate related spending in the budget. We are investing $105 million to support First Nations people responding to climate change in their communities; $1.8 billion in strong action to manage the natural environment, including over $1 billion for the Great Barrier Reef. The Driving the Nation Fund will invest in electric vehicle charging stations. We're investing in hydrogen highways for key freight routes. Minister Bowen and Prime Minister Albanese, in international forums, have been sending a clear message to the world: when it comes to taking serious action on climate change Australia is back in the game.

5:38 pm

Photo of David ColemanDavid Coleman (Banks, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

We're talking about the Appropriation Bill (No. 1) which, of course, is about the budget, so let's start at the budget. If we look at this year's budget from the Labor Party, what does it say? It says $182 billion of deficits over the next four years. The government's argument is basically, 'A lot of this is beyond our control. There are things happening internationally. Basically it's not our fault.' But the problem with that is that the budget specifically spells out the impact of decisions made by this government to increase those deficits. So it's quite inconvenient for the government, because they basically say, 'It's not our fault. There's nothing we could do about it,' except the budget actually says, 'This is specifically what they did.' It is only measures that are very clearly identified as new government initiatives, so it's quite narrow but it's still $28 billion. It's on page 176 of Budget Paper No. 1. The government's own initiatives are adding an additional $28 billion on to budget deficits.

This is a very concerning thing but it's not surprising, because you will recall that during COVID, when absolutely unusual and exceptional measures had to be put in place to save the Australian economy—none more so than JobKeeper—the position of the then opposition on effectively every spending measure was: spend more. That was what the opposition said, and it was about $80 billion worth of additional spending that the opposition wanted the previous government to pursue. You'll recall, Deputy Speaker Georganas, that that included things like, most famously, paying people to get the vaccine. It was billions of dollars in just that one thought bubble. Then of course it also included keeping JobKeeper going and going and going, beyond the point where the situation with COVID required that to occur. So, $80 billion in opposition, and already, in really just a few weeks of preparation of this budget, another $28 billion of additional spending.

That's really symptomatic of what this government is about. It wants to spend and it wants to tax, and there is no question in my mind that when we come back here in May the punchline in the national conversation that the Treasurer is so keen to pursue will be, 'Here are your new taxes.' That's where the national conversation is going. But it's quite instructive to have a look back at 2018-19, which was the last budget before COVID hit. What actually happened with the budget outcome for 2018-19 was that it was in balance. There was effectively no deficit, and the accrual accounting for that year actually shows a surplus of about $9 billion. That was the actual outcome in 2018-19. So, that's where the previous government got the budget to, prior to the extraordinary and unprecedented situation with COVID-19.

So we got the budget to surplus—actually, a bit better than surplus on an accrual basis—so what's happened since then? What's happened is that this government has very substantially increased spending. If you go back to the 2018-19 budget outcome and compare that with what this government is forecasting for 2025-26, they have an increase in income tax of $99 billion across those seven years. The last I heard, $99 billion is quite a big increase. So, on the notion that tax isn't enough and we need more tax and all that sort of stuff—$99 billion in income tax alone—there's a problem, and that problem is that there is one line item in the entire budget, just one, where the increase exceeds $99 billion, and that is social security and welfare. If you compare 2018-19 with 2025-26, the increase in social security and welfare spending is $101 billion—more than the entire increase in income tax of $99 billion across that period.

So, facts matter, and numbers matter. The Treasurer is very big on the vibe and the national conversation, but the numbers matter, and the numbers show that this government is increasing social security and welfare spending by more than $100 billion over that period, which is more than the entire increase in income tax of $99 billion. So we're seeing, in quite a short period of time, from the budget back in April to this budget in October, an increase in spending in that 2025-26 year, three years from now, of $44 billion. So, just in a few months the expenditure plan for that year, which is only three years away now, is $44 billion under this government.

We know where this is headed. There's this sort of interesting thing that happens in politics, Mr Deputy Speaker—and you've been involved in it for a little while now—whereby the Treasurer clearly enjoys this notion of a big conversation, and no doubt there'll be lots of round tables and there'll be lots of stakeholders and there'll be lots of grave summits—and working groups, maybe. I think we'll see a number of those over the next six months, and we'll see some very serious and grave press conferences about the grave international circumstances and how difficult it all is for Australia. But it's all a ruse, because it's just about more tax.

The government fundamentally believes that it is better placed than the people of Australia to decide how to spend their money. That's the guts of this. So you can have as many national conversations as you want, as many appearances on ABC's 7.30 or wherever they might go, but that's what this is about. That's what we know is happening. It has already happened quite a bit. Already $555 million in this budget for self-funded retirees, who were told before the election, 'No tax increase after the election,' and then $555 million. So you can't say we haven't been warned, and self-funded retirees, many of whom live in my electorate, are very much aware that that's already happened. The numbers of the federal government are so huge that $555 million—one can say it quite quickly. It doesn't sound like it's a lot of money, but it actually is to those people who have saved incredibly hard to provide for their retirement.

We know that new taxes are coming, but they're coming in an environment where people are really struggling. That's why the stage 3 tax cuts are so important, because they will mean the vast majority of Australians, more than 90 per cent of taxpayers, only pay 30c in the dollar as their top marginal rate—and that's great! That's a really good thing; it should be celebrated. Why should the average Australian taxpayer be paying more than 30 per cent of their taxes to this building? They shouldn't. That's why the stage 3 tax cuts are so important—and everyone supported them. Again, I recall before the election the then opposition fully supporting those tax cuts, but now it's a little bit wobbly. Quite a lot wobbly, actually.

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party, Shadow Minister for Trade and Tourism) Share this | | Hansard source

It's more than wobbly!

Photo of David ColemanDavid Coleman (Banks, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Very wobbly, yes. Sadly, after four or five months of softening up before the budget, it will be goodbye stage 3 tax cuts.

There are other things we're also likely to see. I wouldn't be at all surprised to see a proposed increase in the Medicare levy at the next budget, and the argument will be to cover all of this additional spending that the government is pursuing, particularly in the area of social security and welfare.

It's really hard for people when interest rates are up. We know electricity and gas prices are going up dramatically—this is the budget appropriations bill; it's in the budget—56 per cent for electricity, 44 per cent for gas. This was new information in the budget because pre-election it was the $275 thing. That was a big thing, and members will recall the now Prime Minister used to talk about it a lot. At the National Press Club, three days before the election, a strong reference was made to $275. It was mentioned 97 times. But after the election it didn't get mentioned at all—it's really weird. In July, the Prime Minister gave a 2,400-word speech to the Australian Financial Review energy forum where he didn't mention the $275 figure one time. It's really strange, isn't it?

There's a legal expression that my friend the member for Menzies would be familiar with: 'a consciousness of guilt'. I think that's what we're seeing in the $275 disappearance. You don't talk about something if you don't want to focus on it and if you know you're in the wrong, and that is why that has dropped off the agenda completely. And the now Treasurer talked about the $275 too.

Another thing in the budget that concerns me: there are 24 pages that basically say nothing, and this is a new section called the 'wellbeing budget'. It really doesn't say a lot. In reading it, it kind of sounds to me a bit like Treasury itself is reluctant to actually do this. It's very hedged, the way it's written. It's basically some sort of concept of, 'We're going to measure some other stuff, apart from the actual budget, and somehow that will be good.' To which I would say: 'Well, we don't need a wellbeing budget. We need a budget, an actual budget, a budget with substance, a budget that's robust, a budget with granular detail that the Australian people can be confident in.' This wellbeing budget goes through the 24 pages and it sort of culminates in this sentence. It's a difficult sentence to read, but I'm going to do it. It says:

The 2023 Measuring What Matters Statement—

this is foreshadowed—

will be an important next step in facilitating a more informed and inclusive policy dialogue on how to improve the quality of life of all Australians.

But we've got to wait until 2023 to get that, and that's not what budgets are about.

The other thing in the budget that was a bit of a story for a day or two was about the million homes. It has a grand title. I think it's the Housing Accord, so trying to conjure up images of the accord of the 1980s and 1990s. But basically all the so-called Housing Accord says is, 'We've got some specific initiatives to help build 40,000 homes'—and that effectively involves more government spending—'and we have an aspiration of a million homes over the next five years'. There's no detail at all on how those million homes will be produced. There is some detail, in fairness, for the 40,000, and they come at a very significant cost. But then, when you actually look at approximately how many homes are built in Australia per year—and this is over five years—it turns out there have been a number of years when more than 200,000 homes have been built in Australia anyway. So, the million homes are, broadly, a reflection of what happens in the housing market anyway. I think the game here is that it'll probably be somewhere in the high hundreds of thousands, because it always is, over a five-year period. Then it will be, 'Look we've built our 920,000 homes.' But it's just the intellectual bankruptcy of it. It's very disappointing. The actual measures themselves are very modest. It's just misleading.

Then we get the industrial relations piece, which is referred to in the budget. It wasn't referred to before the election and the bottom line here is, why should a business in Bundaberg get roped into something that's happening in Bruny? They're separate businesses. They have their own issues, their own markets, their own problems, their own employees. Why should they be roped into that and potentially be affected by industrial action? They shouldn't. Today they're not, tomorrow they will be, and that's bad. But that's what this legislation does. It takes us back to the 1970s, and not in a good way. It is a very disappointing piece of legislation.

Photo of Kevin HoganKevin Hogan (Page, National Party, Shadow Minister for Trade and Tourism) Share this | | Hansard source

[inaudible] the bosses!

Photo of David ColemanDavid Coleman (Banks, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Well, indeed. The shadow minister says it's the bosses. This is about the union movement. The problem the union movement has is that the private sector has moved away in dramatic numbers from the union movement. It's not so bad for the unions in the public sector, but in the private sector union membership is down to less than 10 per cent. There are more left-handers in the private sector today than there are union members. I can say that; I'm a left-hander, with lived experience as a left-hander. There are more of us left-handers than there are union members. If you're in the union movement, that's a big problem. That's an existential threat. You need to address that by roping more and more businesses in the private sector into the union movement. It's not about wages. It is about bolstering the position of the union movement.

Now, I have just 50 seconds to go, but I want to talk quickly about one local issue. Oatley FC and Renown United play at a park called Renown Park. It is the absolute bedrock of our community. More than 1,000 kids play there every Saturday. There's $550,000 in the budget to fix the park, because its condition is appalling. This government still has not provided clarity to those 1,000 players at Renown and Oatley FC. It is shameful. It needs to be resolved. They are great people at Oatley and Renown United. This government must release that funding to allow that project to happen. That's just one example of the many, many problematic aspects of this budget. It's not a good budget for Australia. It means greater debt, it'll lead to more taxes, and it's the wrong budget for this country.

5:53 pm

Alison Byrnes (Cunningham, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Albanese government's budget is sensible, and it is right for the times. Our budget has three main tasks: providing responsible cost-of-living relief to Australians, helping people without adding to inflation; investing in a stronger, more resilient, more-modern economy; and beginning the important job of repairing the budget.

Childcare costs have increased by 41 per cent over the past eight years, and many people are deciding not to work due to the cost. In 2021, 73,000 people who wanted to work did not look for work due to childcare costs. Australians are also having to choose between vital medicines and feeding themselves and their families. In 2019-20, more than 900,000 Australian families delayed or did not get a script filled, due to the cost. These are people in our communities who are not getting the medicine they need because they need the money to eat or pay their rent or mortgage. For too many Australians it is increasingly hard just to put or keep a roof over their heads. Australians are spending more on housing than they used to. This is particularly true for people on low incomes. Working Australians, the backbone of our great country, driving our economy, serving our communities and caring for our loved ones, are struggling with stagnant wages as inflation continues to rise.

A decade of neglect by the previous government has got us into this mess, and, with this budget, the Albanese government is beginning the hard work of cleaning it up. Our five-point cost-of-living plan will bring relief to Australian families in a responsible and productive way. We are making child care cheaper for Australian families. We are making medicine cheaper. We are expanding paid parental leave to six months. We are creating more affordable housing and we are getting wages moving. Labor's policy on cheaper child care will make child care more affordable for around 1.26 million Australians and around 5,700 families in Cunningham. We are doing this by lifting the maximum childcare subsidy rate from 85 per cent to 90 per cent for families with a combined income of under $80,000. Subsidy rates for families earning less than $530,000 will also be increased. This change will improve workforce participation and productivity. It will help improve gender equality and give Australian families some much-needed cost-of-living relief.

By reducing the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme general co-payment from $42.50 to $30, we are making medicines cheaper for Australians. This change reflects Labor's deep commitment to universal health care for Australians. Medical conditions are difficult enough as it is. We do not need the added stress of having to make tough decisions between putting food on the table and buying medicine.

We are increasing Australia's paid parental leave scheme, adding an additional six weeks of leave for families, taking the total to 26 weeks by 2026—a full six months. This will give families greater flexibility, with extended leave able to be taken in blocks. It is great for women's economic equality and for the Australian economy.

The opposition wants Australians to raid their superannuation to buy a home, sinking their retirement savings. Labor's policies will increase housing affordability and supply, enabling more Australians to buy a home and protect their super at the same time. Our ambitious housing reform includes $10 billion for the Housing Australia Future Fund, which will build 30,000 new social and affordable housing properties in its first five years. The Regional First Home Buyer Guarantee guarantees up to 15 per cent for eligible first home buyers, allowing them to avoid lenders mortgage insurance, with a deposit as low as five per cent. The Help to Buy program will reduce the cost of buying a home. On top of our election commitments, the budget introduces the National Housing Accord. The accord seeks to build one million new homes over five years from 2024—a huge boost to housing supply.

We are building a stronger, more resilient economy, with investments in 180,000 fee-free TAFE and vocational education places in 2023 and 20,000 new university places over the next two years, including 936 at the University of Wollongong. We are leading a national push to close the gender pay gap. There is $15 billion for the National Reconstruction Fund for a future made in Australia, and the $20 billion Rewiring the Nation plan to upgrade and expand the grid, unlock renewables and drive down power prices.

With this budget, we are investing in Australians. We are taking responsible action to ease cost-of-living pressures, build the economy and repair the budget over the long term. It is only through responsible budget management that we can pay for the things Australians care about and build a better future.

The Illawarra has a strong history of manufacturing and heavy industry, and our region is renowned for its beauty, nestled between the escarpment and the ocean. The combination of a strong, working-class history and a stunning natural environment is reflected in the views of our community. We are a region that cares deeply about jobs. We are grounded in the reality that there are bills that need to be paid and families we need to provide for. We also care deeply about the environment; it's almost impossible not to, with our beautiful beaches and rainforests.

Our government's budget is great for the region and aligns with these community values. There were many issues that community members raised with me throughout the campaign that our budget is now addressing. Action on climate change was right up there. I commend the work of Minister Bowen, who has set a cracking pace in implementing real action on climate change. Already we have legislated a 43 per cent minimum emissions reduction target by 2030, and we are beginning the work to establish an offshore renewable energy industry in this country, which, it is estimated, will created between 3,000 and 8,000 jobs annually.

One of the six potential offshore renewable energy zones announced is in our region. This is an industry that would fit the Illawarra perfectly, but we need skilled workers to fill these jobs. I often hear people speak of the need to create renewable jobs, but very little thought has been given to the training that is needed for these jobs. That is why the Labor Party is the true progressive party in this country. We understand how to make progressive change a reality. We know that it is not enough just to create renewable jobs; we need to train our people to do them—and not just renewable jobs but other vital jobs too, such as in the health and care and education sectors.

That's why this budget creates 20,000 additional university places for students starting in 2023 and 2024. Nine hundred and thirty-six of these places have been allocated to the University of Wollongong. These places will train more teachers, nurses and engineers and build our workforce in the areas we desperately need. Our community has welcomed this investment in our local university. An editorial in the Illawarra Mercury praised the $29 million investment. The editorial outlined the need to prepare Australia for a future where engineering and innovation are needed for economic survival, and it welcomed the $29 million announcement. The editorial also rightly noted the benefits these investments give to the broader economy, particularly by training more early childhood educators to free Australian mums and dads to return to the workforce.

Other community members identified the importance of our housing reform in meeting the increasing demands of our region. Through the National Housing Accord, we are encouraging the investment needed to create housing supply. Michele Adair, CEO of the Housing Trust, spoke positively of the National Housing Accord to the Illawarra Mercury, stating that they hadn't ever seen this from the previous government. I look forward to working with Michele and the Housing Trust as is the policy is rolled out.

Adam Zarth, the executive director of Business Illawarra, also identified our community's critical need for housing, particularly for key workers, when speaking to ABC Illawarra. He noted that our reforms are a big first step to meeting this need. Adam also praised our commitments to renewable energy, pointing out that Illawarra businesses have been battling rising energy prices for too long. He noted that local businesses are also pleased to see our government working to lower the deficit and repair the budget. Business confidence has dipped but, as Adam pointed out, our budget charts a course through these difficult times.

This is an honest budget that doesn't sugar-coat the harsh realities. Community leaders in the Illawarra have spoken in support of our sensible and necessary reforms—reforms that will help our region and Australia to better weather the hard times we are facing. Our budget delivers for Australians, and it delivers for communities in Cunningham. I made a promise to the people of Cunningham that I would hit the ground running and I would never let the Illawarra be ignored. When I make a commitment, I work hard to make sure that it is delivered. In this budget, I have secured nearly $14 million for local sporting groups, multicultural and community services, disability services, Wollongong TAFE and the University of Wollongong.

Sport plays such an important role in bringing our communities together and keeping us healthy. Local sporting groups are usually run by a dedicated group of volunteers who give their time to organise events and maintain their clubs. This budget delivers nearly $500,000 for sporting clubs in my area. A hundred and fifty thousand dollars will be provided to Football South Coast for drainage works at the Coledale, Wollongong Olympic and Russell Vale clubs, as well as for new fencing at Helensburgh football club. Ann-Marie Balliana, the CEO of Football South Coast, and Daniel Hunter, president of the Russell Vale Junior Football Club, welcomed the announcement and said that the upgrades will enable local volunteers to work with their communities in their own back yard, where previously they were having to use other fields. I know it means a lot to them, and I am thrilled to be delivering the funding that they need. A hundred and twenty thousand dollars has also been allocated to Cricket NSW for new nets at Hollymount Park, Woonona. There is $100,000 for the Corrimal Rugby League Football Club to accommodate the growing number of female players; $75,000 for Helensburgh Netball Club for new fencing; and $40,000 for Thirroul Rugby League Football Club for shelters at Thomas Gibson Park.

The University of Wollongong and our local TAFEs are a great source of pride to our region, and thanks to our government's investments they will play a vital role in training our renewable energy workforce. $10 million will go to the University of Wollongong for the creation of an energy future skills centre, and $2.5 million will go to Wollongong TAFE for a renewable energy training facility. This will help put our region on the market as a serious player in the renewable sector. Climate change is such an important issue in our community, and this investment has been well received. We also delivering a community battery for Warrawong and another one in Dapto in the electorate of Whitlam, secured by my good friend the member for Whitlam. Our battery in Warrawong will allow around 500,000 households with solar panels to feed into the battery during the day and draw from it at night, cutting electricity bills and emissions.

The community and multicultural organisations in Cunningham are an inspiration, and the funding I have secured for them will help them to continue their important work. $1 million will help the Illawarra Legal Centre continue to help vulnerable people in our community. $120,000 has been granted to the South Coast Portuguese Association for refurbishment of their centre in Lake Heights. $100,000 goes to Bulli PCYC for accessible toilets. I used to attend the Bulli PCYC blue light discos when I was at school, and the toilets haven't been updated since then. It's a great improvement for our community. There is $100,000 for the Bellambi Neighbourhood Centre to refurbish their cafe and outdoor area; $100,000 for the Coomaditchie United Aboriginal Corporation for facility and sporting upgrades; $100,000 for the Wollongong PCYC for refurbishments; $90,000 to Narelle Clay and her team at Southern Youth and Family Services to retrofit homeless and at-risk youth housing services with solar panels and water tanks; and $50,000 for the IMAN Foundation for a new van for community food distribution programs.

Some of our local disability organisations are also getting much-deserved funding. There is $100,000 for Interchange Illawarra for new toilets and disability access; $83,000 for the Cram Foundation for a client transport bus; and $70,000 for Greenacres Disability Services for refurbishments. In addition to this direct funding we will be delivering a Wollongong urgent care clinic to help take the pressure off our local hospitals.

I care about people, I care about their jobs, and I care about the environment. When I commit to something I follow through. This budget delivers on my commitments to the people of Cunningham. It helps the people in our community and it helps the organisations that serve our community. This is a true Labor budget, responsible and compassionate, a budget crafted for all Australians and a budget to take us forward as a nation.

6:08 pm

Keith Wolahan (Menzies, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

The Leader of the Opposition was spot on when he began his reply with the following: 'We live in the best country in the world, but for millions of Australians things aren't easy right now.' Cost of living is more than a slogan; it is about the gap between income and prices. That gap is growing. Labor's recent budget is good at detailing problems but devoid of real solutions. Families across my electorate of Menzies are struggling to make ends meet. Everything is more expensive, whether you are paying your power bill, filling up the car or saving for your first home. The average price of fuel in Melbourne today is about $2.10 depending on where you buy it from. Electricity prices are forecast to rise by up to 56 per cent over two years. This is despite Labor promising a $275 cut in power prices 97 times before the election. It is no wonder that families think twice more than they used to.

We know that inflation must be brought under control, but we should not forget that this comes at a massive cost to millions of families, many on fixed rates that will expire in the coming months and years. If you look at a heat map of mortgage stress, the western portion of my electorate of Menzies is one of the highest in the country. Given record house prices, it is not surprising that families have stretched themselves to live in our part of the world; it's a lovely place to live. This means that each increase in mortgage, rent, power, fuel and food prices forces families to make tough choices between the things they need and the things that make them happy.

For many, this trade-off is paid in lost time with loved ones, as they are forced to work extra shifts or even a second job. Many think twice about school excursions. I noticed that not many from my electorate have come on the school tours here. There may be many reasons for that, but, for a lot of families, it's an extra cost they can't afford. For many, it's a choice about whether their children remain in a sporting team. The World Cup is on this Wednesday morning, and most Australians will turn on the TV at 6 am and watch Australia—the Socceroos—take on France. But soccer is actually a very expensive sport to play. It doesn't have all of the subsidies that AFL and cricket have. For families in my electorate who love soccer—they call it football—those fees are very high, in the hundreds of dollars. Again, as rates rise and inflation goes up, they're some the things that have to be cut.

Going to the movies—I hear many families say that they go less than they used to, and they don't know whether they will this summer. We often see the great big blockbusters come out on New Year's Day. Again, there'll be fewer families going to the movies than last year. Christmas and birthday presents will be sacrificed. Families will think twice about holidays, and, for many, the cost of food is going up and up and up. Right now, families are making the real choice on a daily basis about what type of food to eat, and those decisions will be even harder next year.

The Albanese government needs to recognise they are not in opposition anymore. They were a very effective opposition; that's why they get to sit over there. But they're not there anymore. They need to take responsibility for balancing sustained growth with ever increasing inflation. I am disappointed to see that there is no immediate relief in sight for families. Between a combination of surging inflation and rising interest rates, average wage earners will be $5,000 a year worse off. Even worse, mortgage holders will on average be up to $13,000 a year out of pocket. This budget fails to deliver not only on a macro level but also on a micro level within particular seats. I've listened to many of my colleagues speak about projects they were expecting to see in this budget, projects they fought hard for, and then, when they opened the budget papers: whoosh, gone, not there.

Let me talk about one in my electorate. My electorate is mostly metropolitan, but, on the eastern side, there's Warrandyte/Wonga Park, and that feeds into the suburban areas of Warranwood and Croydon North. There's an intersection called Five Ways. It's called Five Ways because five actual roads intersect in the one spot, and it is packed full of families going to and from school every day. It's full of families, yet it is one of the most dangerous roads in Victoria. In 2021, a young girl in her 20s was in an accident and died later in hospital—totally unnecessary, because it's a road that we know needs to be fixed.

I fought hard for election commitments, and I never took my seat for granted. But maybe some people thought it was safe, so I didn't get as many as other seats might have got. But this was one that I got, and I was really proud of it: we got a commitment to fix Five Ways. I'd actually prefer the project to be built over any political gain that could be had. When I heard that my Labor opponent would match it, I thought, 'That's a great thing,' because then, whoever wins, the community would get what they need. I thought this was one of those projects.

Residents have been calling for urgent upgrades to this intersection for years; 1,000 locals signed a petition. So, when my Labor opponent was quoted in the local Warrandyte Diary as saying that this would be matched, I was delighted, because I thought, no matter what happens, this project's getting filled. However, after the budget, I went flicking through the budget looking for a commitment to this project, and it wasn't there. I asked for a meeting with the transport minister and, to her credit, she sat down and we had a chat about it and she told me something quite alarming: that the candidate, despite having been quoted in the Warrandyte Diary as saying that this would be matched, had never passed that up through the chain in the Labor Party. It never happened. Let's pretend that that's a good enough excuse—that you require some form to fill in that goes through the party. Well, it's just not acceptable, with a road that a young girl died on and where families face that risk every morning and every evening, to have the Labor Party say, 'You didn't fill in a form, so that community's going to suffer.'

I notice that that same candidate is now a state candidate in the same area, in Warrandyte. I hope that the locals, whenever anything is promised by that candidate, ask, 'Are you going to fill in that form?' Will the Labor party be trusted to actually fulfil its promises? That side talks a lot about integrity, but integrity is what you do, not what you say. When we look at what they do, it is a trail of destruction. That is one example in my area that was about saving lives. So Labor has said one thing in my seat and then has done another in practice. There are serious questions for that candidate to answer.

Despite viewing young Australians as reliable supporters, Labor has abandoned younger Australians. There is no immediate plan found in this budget to assist with homeownership. For example, a young person who has recently found their way into an administrative role out of university and is renting is far worse off under Labor. It is hard to define a typical young person, but take, for example, a young individual who has recently found their way into such a job straight out of university. The median weekly advertised rents for that person have increased by a historic 4.3 per cent over the September quarter alone, bringing the year-on-year rise to 10.3 percent. In dollar terms, Australia's median weekly rent now sits at $520 for houses and $460 for units. While juggling growing HECS repayments and rental costs, this young person must juggle other immediate expenses. One survey of private sector office administrative workers found that 30 per cent have dropped private health insurance to save money. Again, it's another choice that people are making because of rising costs and rising inflation, and that side bank their support because they think they'll always have it. Well, be very careful what you take for granted. Labor's lack of support will see long-term consequences—in this example, to their health, where people are going without. That places further burden on our public health system, which again has a financial cost.

We have to do more as a parliament to help young people own their own piece of Australia. We all have to do more to get young people into their own homes. We know it is a source of economic security. I said in my first speech, standing here, that I want to look young people in the eye and say to them that homeownership is core business for our party. But we have urgent work to do—urgent work that shouldn't just wait for the next time that we have the privilege of sitting on those benches. It is urgent work right now. It was Robert Menzies who spoke in the darkest days of World War II—when there was a myriad of other things to be worried about, including the very existence of this nation—not just of the forgotten people but of their desire for a home into which they could withdraw and where they could be among their friends. That is a universal aspiration for every generation of Australians.

So, even though we are in opposition, we're offering constructive solutions. We have recommitted to the super home buyer scheme. We will extend the same opportunity to women who separate later in life—women who have few housing opportunities and are increasingly left homeless. I see this in my electorate. Like many others, I have been to food banks in my electorate run by churches and other community groups. I was at the Vantage Point Church in the east of my electorate, and they were running a food bank. As I left, there were 50 cars queued up to get some basic supplies, and just about every car was driven by a woman who had been separated from her partner or whose partner had died. They were doing their best to pay for the mortgage and the food with one income. I'm proud that our party has got a policy for people in that position, because, again, the security of their home is a way for them and their family to escape poverty.

We don't want to go down the path of the United States where giants ETFs snap up vast quantities of residential properties, becoming super landlords. On my declaration of interest I own Vanguard shares. But I am shocked to think that that ETF in the United States owns so much residential property. We don't want that here and we don't want it by a Vanguard or a superfund. We want families owning houses. That's who should be owning houses in this country.

We hear a lot of talk about old class divisions, but if you really want to create class divisions in this society, you will have fewer people owning homes and you will have a more superfunds owning them. That is a recipe for class division in this society. If the Labor Party are serious about it, they will not walk down that path and they will join with us in getting more young families into their own homes.

The part that our leader spoke about on this side was a tax relief. As he said, your cost of living is interconnected with tax relief. To help you and your families to plan ahead, the coalition believes in a core principle and it's this, that you should keep more of what you earn. Hardworking Australians should be rewarded and the best reward for that is lower taxes. Due to tax relief legislated by the last government, a person earning $90,000 paid $3,000 less tax than they did under Labor, each and every year, and that compounds over time.

Stage 3 of the tax cuts will lower tax for more than 10 million Australians. It will simplify our tax system. We know it will abolish the 37 per cent tax rate entirely. It means those earning between $45,000 and $200,000 will pay no more than 30c in the dollar. For someone earning $60,000 a year it means $400 more in your pocket. For those earning $80,000 it means $900 more. For those earning $$100,000 it means $1,370 more. For 95 per cent of workers it means a top rate of no more than 30c in the dollar. The coalition plan means that the top five per cent of income earners will pay 33 per cent of all income tax. The legislated tax plan future proofs people's income that they have worked hard for. We are hearing the whispers again about how this particular tax cut won't survive going forward. Again, don't walk down that path. Stagflation is a concept I hope we don't experience but it's one we should keep one eye out for.

I will conclude my last 30 seconds with this: what was the point of it all? We all came back here for a special budget, so why? Why did we come back? Why did we sit through that? To those who tuned in to watch, they saw a set piece event designed to exploit publicity. They saw a new Treasurer enjoy the limelight, stand up and get lots of hugs from his colleagues. But Australians are asked to ask, 'What was the point of it all? Was it just an expensive press release?'

6:23 pm

Photo of Patrick GormanPatrick Gorman (Perth, Australian Labor Party, Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister) Share this | | Hansard source

I will begin by addressing the elephant, or the bowtie, in the room—the penguin in the room—which is that I am not dressed for you, Deputy Speaker, as much as I admire you. Tonight is the night of the Prime Minister's science awards. It's a night where we recognise outstanding scientists, research innovators and science teachers across Australia, people who do so much to secure the economic future of this country. I know everyone in this place who believes in policy based in fact, policy based in evidence, policy based in science will join me in commending the scientists of Australia, 500 of whom it will join myself, the Prime Minister and Minister Husic just a couple of metres that way.

I am so proud to be supporting Australia's scientists, because scientists, and all those who help us address the great challenges which we face in this parliament year on year, do so much. As a parliament we are facing huge challenges: climate change; the ongoing pressures in health care, in aged care, in child care—across the care economy; tensions in various regions of the world, including dealing with Russia's unjustified war in Europe. These are challenges on which we seek to bring Australians together, to come up with Australia's solutions, to come up with our response to these challenges and so many more. If you look at the way in which this government has sought to address those challenges, we did not waste a day.

If we think back to the first sitting of the 47th Parliament, in the first week alone we introduced 30 bills to act on the pressures that Australians are facing. We worked to tackle the pressing challenges in sectors of need, including making sure that we acted on climate change. Again I reflect on the comments that the Prime Minister made when he addressed the National Press Club. He said very clearly, and this is at the core of this budget and the appropriation bills we're debating now:

Our plan is a growth agenda. It is unashamedly pro business but … also unashamedly pro workers. We want an economy that works for people, not the other way around.

We saw that agenda expanded again at the Jobs and Skills Summit held in September, bringing people together, trying to find those common solutions—trying to look for the common ground which can actually move Australia forward. It's been a long time since a government has hosted such a summit, and I think we can all reflect that it was indeed a success in terms of building dialogue, strengthening dialogue and strengthening policy outcomes. Bringing people together is at the absolute core of the Albanese government, and this budget again shows that.

If you look at the careful balance that the Treasurer, along with his ministerial colleagues, struck in forming this budget, it achieves that targeted cost-of-living relief while also trying to do that delicate balance of avoiding further inflationary pressure in the economy. We see the results. It's giving cheaper child care to 1.2 million Australians, including 6,800 in the Perth electorate, and progressively expanding Paid Parental Leave to six months by 2026—again giving families more time at home and more support in those challenging months with a newborn. It's making sure that, where we can, we reduce the cost of medicines. For those who rely on the wonderful Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme that has existed in some form or another for 75 years, it's making sure that we get the cost of those medicines down—now a co-payment of just $30 per script. There are comprehensive investments in more affordable housing, and new, creative policy solutions to make sure that more people can have a secure place to call home.

There is our commitment—which I'm sure we will debate more in this chamber and in the other place—on getting wages moving again. It's recognising that people deserve a fair reward for the work that they do towards our economic growth and also ensuring that there's growth in the wages of working Australians. We also invest significantly in a more resilient economy. There are the 180,000 fee-free TAFE places to make sure that more people can access the wonderful training in our TAFE sector and, where necessary, shift their career from one part of our economy to another with that world-class training. There are 20,000 new university places, ensuring that more Australians can have the benefit of, again, a world-class university education. There are advances on gender equality and steps towards closing the 14 per cent gender pay gap.

There are investments in cheaper, cleaner renewable energy and in renewable energy transmission. There are investments to ensure that we can in fact have more domestic manufacturing capability, through the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund. There's a huge investment in ongoing transport infrastructure, including the transformative project in Western Australia of METRONET, one component being the very exciting Airport Line on which I was privileged to ride with the Prime Minister and the Premier of Western Australia when that opened just last month. We've got commitments to expand the National Broadband Network, make sure we do more to help Australians who are on a pension keep more of what they earn if they choose to go back to work, and deliver more funding for staff to slash the visa backlog.

This is a good budget. If I look at what it means for my community locally, it means we have secured, finally, the investment in the Aboriginal Cultural Centre—something that will be the west coast's answer to the Sydney Opera House. We've got a Medicare urgent care clinic that will be based near Royal Perth Hospital, ensuring that we take pressure off the hospitals that my constituents and yours, Deputy Speaker Goodenough, rely upon in Western Australia in the Perth metropolitan area. We have commitments for the City of Perth to invest more in its Light Up Perth program and the City of Stirling to invest more in lighting up both its strips; investments to help the City of Bayswater reduce their energy bills and emissions by investing in LED lighting across the city; investments for the town of Bassendean to make sure that the Swan Districts Football Club can operate under the appropriate lights for their men's and women's teams; and investments for the City of Vincent to upgrade lighting at Axford Park.

There is so much more of which I'm proud, including our commitment to the Bayswater Urban Forest and our commitment to new playgrounds for the children of Bassendean and further afield. Many have FIFA World Cup fever at the moment, but those of us in Perth will be waiting until we do our bit for the training facilities for the FIFA Women's World Cup next year, which will include the Perth Soccer Club—a wonderful club that has stood in the Perth electorate for decades and will get some much-needed upgrades. We are partnering with one of the official local heroes of Western Australia to deliver funding for Short Back & Sidewalks to expand their operations in delivering services to people who are homeless in Western Australia and, indeed, across Australia.

When it comes to other investments, one of the things we know we need to do more of is invest in our river health. For our urban rivers, and indeed the Swan and Canning rivers, this budget delivers on a major package of investment in the health of those waterways: restoration for the Tranby House foreshore; revegetation of the Mainland lakes; and a commitment for the Friends of Bardon Park and the City of Bayswater to make sure we continue the great revegetation work and weed eradication which has been choking up parts of the Swan River.

Then we get to one of my loves—play based learning. It's not just about the big visionary reforms when it comes to childcare investment and investing in early childhood education and care for 1.2 million Australians; it's also about the little things, like making sure we can support the Bayswater Toy Library, the Yokine Toy Library, the Bayswater Playgroup and the Yokine Playgroup with new equipment and toys, supporting our youngest Australians to get the play based skills and learning they need, and investing in the future of renewable energy through our commitment to community batteries for Dianella and Bayswater as part of a package of 400 across Australia.

I note this is a commitment in this Treasurer's budget but I pay tribute to former Treasurer Josh Frydenberg for the work he did on the Jewish Community Centre and Holocaust education centre that will be in Yokine, in my electorate. This is something which has bipartisan support. I've always recognised the strong bipartisanship that applies to building that centre, something that is much needed in Western Australia. I'm pleased that funding is secured and that construction will soon commence on that really important project.

The other thing in terms of communities who have longstanding and proud traditions in the Perth electorate is of course our Italian community. I'm pleased we will be supporting the Italian Club of Western Australia—you and I, Deputy Speaker Goodenough, can attend the Italian Club for a range of community functions; it will be a great host of many community functions for many years to come—and supporting the Australian Asian Association with a new vehicle to transport their members to ensure they can continue to provide such valuable community support.

I might start concluding my remarks by noting that I am able to support this budget, and all of us are able to come and put our views on these appropriation bills—and, indeed, every piece of legislation that's put before us—because of the support of so many. No-one makes into this place on their own. I want to say thank you to my campaign team. I can vote for this Labor budget because of them. I also recognise that they are people who tend to be pretty honest with you. They tell you when you're doing well, and they tell you when you can do better. For that, I'm grateful as well. I thank my campaign team who supported me all the way up to 21 May, six months ago today. I want to say a huge thankyou to Dylan, Marissa, Kiani, Aoife, Beth, Daniel, Mike, Ebony, Callum, Megyn and Naomi, who formed the core of that team. They sent me out doorknocking when I didn't want to. They sent me out phone banking when I didn't want to. They also sent me out doorknocking when I did want to. They are all passionate people who believe in the cause of Labor. They recognise that the mission of Labor in government is not to hold anyone back but also not to leave anyone behind.

I want to say thank you to the team at party office in Western Australia, led by Ellie Whitaker—someone who I have praised in this place before and who still has a long and exciting career ahead of her—and at the time led by Tim Picton, who has chosen to do what many do after a brutal run leading an organisational wing of a political party and take some respite in the private sector.

I want to thank Mark McGowan and his entire ministerial team, including my state parliamentary colleagues. In an earlier time I would have named everyone single one of my federal parliamentary colleagues. Once upon a time there were just six of them. It's a slightly longer list now, so I'll use the last two minutes I've got to instead thank some of those people who genuinely gave up their time to volunteer for the Perth campaign. Thank you to the following: Nadia Turner; Marlene Pool-Deaves; Callum Baxter; Stephen Graves; Nermila Kresoje; Ryan Stewart; Jarrah Duckett; Matteo Rossaro; Gary Giles; Trudi Angwin; Robert Taylor; Lee McGrath; Sophie Styles; Mima Comrie, a wonderful member of the Perth community; Pam Day; Jamie Mawer; Steve Carter; Harry Brooking; Linda Pickering; Superv Bat; Jack Matthews; Andrew Mai; Mark Devlin; Dan Bull; Luke and Nicole Archer; Cam O'Donnell; Veronika Gobba; Cath Allgrove; Joanne Fotakis; Cody Steel; Andrew St John; Adrienne Silsbury; Ann Mills; Carol Seidel—Carol's a gem; I've got to say that; Martina Ucnikova; Luke Hutcheson; Dani Montague; Kerry Lawrence; Kaye Crosswell; Agnes O'Kane; Ivy Chen; Julieanne Bull; Jillian Innes; Glenys Addy; Anthea Matthews; Michael Thorn; Joy Nichols; Marisol Nelson; Brenda Higham; Barnaby Sullivan; Peter Mudi; Geoff Parkinson; Brendan Jackson; Tatyana Ignonina; Kerren Hughes; Haeden Miles; Melinda Perks; Tim Dymond; Divij Gupta; Bobbie Oliver; Sophie Farrell; Nyat Mulugeta; Jud White; Andrew Lee; Naomi Schneider; Kiara Wee; Tommy Meagher; Evia Aringo; and Roman Booth—just a fraction of the many people. Like anyone in this place, whatever their politics, I know that we don't get here alone. Once again, I say thank you to all those who supported me and allowed me to vote for this first Labor budget.

6:38 pm

Photo of David GillespieDavid Gillespie (Lyne, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to give my analysis of the critical parts of this first Labor government budget. All around, there are so many programs that are cut-and-paste copies of initiatives that the former coalition government brought through in our former budget, particularly in the aged-care space and in the Health portfolio. I guess I could reiterate that well-known phrase that the best form of flattery is when people copy you. There are some pleasing things. During the campaign we announced some initiatives in the rural and regional healthcare space which were critical for the growth of the rural healthcare workforce. That is the most outstanding issue in rural healthcare. There are not enough nurses and doctors in rural areas of Australia. There is a huge vortex of activity that drags away a lot of health professionals—and other professionals, I might add; it's also engineers and lawyers, and pharmacists, physiotherapists, speech therapists and all other health professionals. It takes a village of professionals to get a good health system. But the most glaring thing is the lack of medical practitioners who are, first of all, going into general practice and, secondly, going into rural general practice. That's why we focused on the rural general practitioner initiatives.

Leading up to the last election, following our budget, we had announced a $143 million package. There are tiered financial incentive payments delivered in this budget, like the then opposition, during the campaign, said they said they would deliver. Just so people know, these were policies that we had worked up and funded in our last budget and that we advocated for in the election campaign. There is $74.1 million going into workforce incentive payments in a tiered fashion so that the doctors and the practices that are more rural and remote get more. For those of you that don't know what workforce incentive payments are, they are payments paid in arrears for services that medical practices deliver. It encourages better behaviour. We had already announced the bulk-billing incentive, which was tiered towards the more rural and remote areas. This is a way of getting better payments for doctors working in rural and remote areas. There was $29.4 million allocated to this out of the tiered incentive payments. We have three extra rounds of the innovative models of care program, which allows incentives to be paid to sign on young GPs into rural practices as well as other initiatives to network them and get hub-and-spoke models and innovative models that we had identified in other innovative models of care in rural New South Wales.

Rural generalist training is advanced general practice training. There is a particular model of rural generalist training which I know the RACGP is now copying from the august College of Rural and Remote Medicine; it has a very specific rural generalist program. Those two curricula will now mimic one another, not as a result of this budget but because they have decided that's a good system. This budget, like in our announcements, is to deliver another set of funding for extra places in the rural generalist program, which requires GPs being employed in hospitals so they can learn anaesthesia and so they can learn obstetrics. But GP trainees have to compete with the big specialist hospitals, which get a lot of those spots. So the only way we can get them a look-in is to actually fund those positions that are dedicated to rural generalist training.

In the last government we started the concept of having a single employer during general practice training, and we plan to expand that, because many people in salaried jobs in hospitals are very loath to leave the security of a salary with all the added benefits like maternity leave, holiday pay, superannuation payments—all those other conditions that you get with salaried employment in public health. When you become a general practice registrar you lose those and you take a pay cut, and they wonder why only 15 per cent of med students plan to go into general practice. That's why it was so important to increase the payments for rural GPs, and I'm glad that the assistant minister responsible honoured their commitment to bringing in these programs, but I would have liked more volume in that assistance.

You would also realise that there is a general shortage of general practitioners. We set up the distribution priority areas to favour areas outside the major metropolitan centres, because, whilst there is a shortage of doctors everywhere, the worst shortages are in rural, remote and regional towns, where it's not a question of having to wait a long time to get into a general practice; there are plenty of towns that don't have a general practice, or they're down to their last GP, which also affects the hospital. That's why we wanted this innovative model of care, where the hospital employs the GP, and they work in the hospital but they also work in a general practice. That way, they get all the certainty of a salary, but half of what they bill in the medical centre goes back to their single employer, which is the state government public hospital. That way, they don't think, 'Wow, if I go into general practice, I lose maternity leave, holiday pay, superannuation and all those things.' When you go into general practice, you've got to organise those things for yourself. So it's no wonder people are voting with their feet and choosing a specialty, because they see it as a higher-status, higher-pay part of the profession, and, if you do specialty training, you're staying in hospitals, with all those benefits. There is a lot more work to be done in that.

I was pleased to see that there were new places allocated to James Cook University for a rural clinical school and end-to-end training based in Townsville, and they're going to expand into Cairns. That was part of our policy too, so, again, the government have copied good policy, and I give them credit for it. But our policy wasn't for just 20 more places; we were going to allocate 80, across other rural portfolios. I put the Minister for Health and Aged Care and the assistant minister on notice that I expect them, in their next budget, to deliver the other 60 places—which aren't mentioned anywhere here—to the other rural clinical schools that we set up, so that they can have more end-to-end, in-the-country training. We know that, if they train in the country, they're more likely to stay there. If they're there for four or five years rather than just a three-month or a six-month rotation, that becomes the focus of their life, and you actually get better training when you're training in these big country hospitals.

One thing I wasn't happy about was the change to the distribution priority areas. They've made it open slather. Previously, doctors who were coming to work in Australia had to work in distribution priority areas in the country. Now there'll be some people who have come from overseas to work who will hightail it into the cities, and they'll just be another number in the cities. Outer metro is a very difficult area to staff as well, but I don't think cannibalising country towns of GPs is a good solution. The trick is to get more into general practice as a whole.

Other initiatives in this budget included more university places. Hello? We announced that in our last budget. They've made out that this is a big new initiative, but we were already doing that, also focused on rural places. We knew that there was a skill shortage. We had over 150,000 extra low-fee or no-fee TAFE places over three years. They've just added another year and put the same amount in and made it look like they're giving a whole lot more. So there is a bit of smoke and mirrors happening here. We all know we need more tradesmen. In fact, trade skills are a really important thing that the states need to support and we need to support, and we had all those incentive programs in place to subsidise the cost of first-year, second-year and third-year apprentices so that more employers would take them on. Anyone who has run a trade related business knows that your first-year apprentice doesn't really deliver a net positive cash flow, because you've got to supervise them, and they're slow. But, once they get into their second, third and fourth years, then they're not a burden on you, and you're growing your own replacement for your business. So we need more apprentices.

The former Minister for Health and Aged Care oversaw an amazing increase in cash going into the aged-care system. We allocated $17 billion, and we set up a new funding model called the Australian National Aged Care Classification, or AN-ACC, system, as opposed to the Aged Care Funding Instrument, which was being gamed and wasn't reflecting the extra costs of remote care, complex care and high-needs care in aged care. There are many institutions that, since 1 October this year, will have been benefiting from that. That accounts for a lot of this so-called extra funding that the new government has put in. It was decided in previous budgets; it's just that it's only now maturing. A lot of these things, as I said, are actually good because they're exact copies, plus a few changes of title and names, and they're claiming the credit for it—no more comments on that.

The other thing that is really disappointing in this budget is that we in the National Party had secured $20 billion of extra funds for regional development. We argued and won the case for huge investments in Darwin and in Central Australia, for sealing east-west roads through the brown plains of western Queensland across into the Northern Territory and over into the Kimberley because with that east-west link we want to connect all these corridors where the wealth of the nation is going to be developed. But unfortunately those opposite think that anything outside a capital city—like Paul Keating said, in Australia, if you're not within 20 kilometres of the CBD, you're camping out. And who on earth would want to build a road that hasn't been graded for 10 years? Well, it's a circular argument. Part of the reason a lot of these roads are needed is that they carry hundreds of millions of dollars of produce and wealth for the nation. They may not have hundreds of thousands of people, like you have in cities. If you're just going to put your money where there are lots of people, we will never develop and we would never have developed regional Australia, which is where most of the wealth of the nation is created. Our tourism product, apart from the Harbour Bridge and Parliament House, is basically rural Australia. Our beaches up and down the coast, Ayres Rock, the Great Barrier Reef, the Kimberley, the goldfields, all those adventure locations—most of them are in regional Australia. We had programs for tourism roads, for beef and cattle and mineral roads. They weren't just for the odd remote agricultural business.

But the huge amounts of money they earn for the nation involve transportation costs. That's why we were developing the Inland Rail—so that the cost of freight for products from the farm and the factories could get off the highways and through to ports. That's why we were supporting taking the Inland Rail not just to Brisbane but up to Gladstone. It was going to be great. But all those things seem to have just gone off the radar, as well as really useful programs such as the Building Better Regions Fund. It's really disappointing to hear that all those regional wealth-developing funds—they weren't bankrolling; they were just catching up with the huge investment that's been ploughed into our cities for the last 200 years. The reason we got to be wealthy was because we developed our nation, and that is why we in the National Party argued for it. If the Labor Party want to really make their mark and be respected, they'd put that money back in. They've got the opportunity at their next budget, and we'll wait and see and make sure that they do things that develop things outside of metro Australia just as much as they do inside metro Australia.

6:53 pm

Photo of Josh BurnsJosh Burns (Macnamara, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I am very pleased to rise and speak about the appropriation bill. This is a great Labor budget, and I'm proud of our Treasurer and finance minister and the entire economics team of the government, too, who worked extremely hard to put this budget together. It comes as Australia faces difficult economic circumstances and Australians face real pressures in the cost of living. Australians right now are facing high inflation. At the moment unemployment is low, but for a decade we had low wages as a deliberate design feature of the Australian economy, and that resulted in Australian families and Australian workers having wages being outpaced by the cost of living and by the cost of doing business in this country.

Thankfully, after a decade where nothing was done about it, our government is getting wages moving again. Of course, you can't point to a single measure of the previous government when it comes to wage increases in this country. There is not one measure where those opposite, in their almost decade in government, did a single thing to increase the wages of the Australian working people. That changed as soon as we got into government. Obviously the first thing the Prime Minister did was put in a submission for an increase in the minimum wage. We supported a wage increase for aged-care workers, and of course we have the Fair Work Legislation Amendment (Secure Jobs, Better Pay) Bill 2022 that hopefully will get through this parliament in time for a Christmas wage increase for Australian workers. Those are the difficult circumstances in which this budget arises, so it is important that we align fiscal and monetary policy to make sure that we aren't making high inflation harder for longer. This budget is responsible. It banks a lot of the increases in revenue to ensure that Australia has the capacity to support Australian people long into the future or in the next situation.

It also took some pretty big and responsible fiscal decisions around the sort of expenditure that we want to make. There's over $20 billion in this budget for reallocated or ceased programs of the former government. Take my electorate, for example, in Macnamara. The previous government allocated $15 million to build car parks near a train station. The only problem was that they didn't talk to either the state government or the local council. Had they had a simple phone conversation and picked up the phone, they would have found out that the $15 million that they'd allocated for the Balaclava car park fund was actually for land already designated for social housing. There are countless and countless examples of the previous government making budgetary decisions in their political interest, not in the interests of the Australian people. We have taken a big pen through the budget, line by line, examining it and making sure that we end the rorts and end the waste.

The other big decision we made and the other big reallocation of funds was to ensure that the federal government and the federal budget are allocated to and focused on investing in renewable energy. The previous government fought renewable energy and still fights renewable energy to this day. They put too much stake in carbon capture and storage, a technology that isn't the answer. They put too much stake in their so-called gas led recovery, something that wasn't going to produce the energy or the jobs of the future in the way that renewable energy will. Of course, now they're on their crusade about nuclear energy, which is a whole other story. We'll come back to that another time.

This budget has the biggest allocation towards renewable energy or the facilitation of renewable energy in our country's history. There is the $20 billion Rewiring the Nation fund, the single biggest piece of public infrastructure that's going to connect up different parts of new renewable energy to the grid. We've already seen a great deal done between the Tasmanian government, the Victorian government and the federal government on the Marinus Link, to bring renewable energy from that small island off the coast of Victoria up to the mainland, making sure that Tasmania stays connected and that Tasmania can benefit from their huge capacity to generate renewable energy. There are a lot of naysayers on that side of the House who say that 100 per cent renewable energy can't be achieved. Well, Tasmania's already achieving it. They're already there. And, over coming years, they'll start exporting clean renewable energy into the mainland, and we are ready to welcome Tasmanian energy as well as invest in some major bits of renewable energy infrastructure.

One of the best days of the campaign was when the Minister for Climate Change and Energy joined me in Southbank to announce that an Albanese Labor government will deliver a community battery in Southbank, right in the top corner of my electorate. That was budgeted for in this budget, to deliver a community battery. The reason why it's so important and why we're doing it in Southbank—Deputy Speaker, you'll be interested to hear—is that a lot of people living in apartments don't have the ability to put solar on their roofs, and so the solar that will be fed into the battery will be able to be utilised and extracted by local Southbank families. I'm expecting this to be an oversubscribed program. I'm expecting that in the future there are going to be a number of community batteries right around the country, but I'm very proud that the Albanese Labor government will deliver 400 community batteries, and one of those will be in Southbank. I'm already in discussions with the minister about the next round.

We're ending the previous government's rorts, we're fighting to lift wages, and now I want to take you through some of the other fantastic local programs and projects that we've got in my electorate of Macnamara. In Macnamara, one of the iconic parts of my electorate is the magnificent Albert Park Lake, where we have the Formula 1 zooming around once a year, which does obviously attract a lot of attention. While I know that there are mixed feelings locally around the community about the Grand Prix, the truth is that a lot of local businesses benefit from having hotels full and restaurant bookings up. There is another side of this that does actually help a lot of the local businesses in my electorate.

But one thing has been missing over a long period. Sprinkled around the Albert Park track is the home of one of the most incredible community sporting precincts in Melbourne. There are ovals, soccer pitches, basketball courts, running tracks and baseball fields. There's a whole network of community sport, and, frankly, for too long that community sport has gone underfunded.

So we made a commitment to work with Parks Victoria and with the state government, who are the custodians of that piece of land, as part of their broader master plan to help fund and make sure that people, especially young girls and other females who are playing community sport at Albert Park, have appropriate sporting facilities, appropriate change rooms and other things. We're going to do some planning work, and I'm working with the sporting association and other great, wonderful local organisations on the rollout of that commitment. It's going to be a really excellent part of Albert Park once we complete that work, and, hopefully, there'll be more to come. The job won't be done, but it will hopefully make a big start and benefit a lot of the wonderful sporting organisations in Macnamara. I thank the minister for trade, who joined me on the campaign trail to help kick a footy around Albert Park and announce that commitment.

One of the proudest election commitments that we made, which is also funded in this budget, is around the Yalukit Willam Nature Reserve. This is a project in Elwood. It's right on the border of Macnamara and Goldstein, where there used to be a golf course called the Elsternwick golf course, or, as we locals liked to call it, Royal Elsternwick. It was a funny little nine-hole course that, unfortunately, like many inner-city golf courses, was a little bit compact and probably had had better days. There was a whole big community process where the community was asked: 'What do you want to do with the land? What should go there in place of the golf course?' What came out of it resoundingly was that the people of Elwood and the surrounding suburbs wanted to create a really unique nature reserve that was about gifting back to the environment one of the largest pieces of land inside Melbourne.

What has occurred there since—the vision for this nature reserve and the work that's already started—is around planting indigenous plants to provide safe habitats for local wildlife. We're already seeing the naturalisation of the park as well as some really brilliant ecological design to bring back wildlife and to help give back to the environment a huge piece of land. In fact, I think it's the largest piece of land in an Australian city to be given back to the environment ever. It's extraordinary, and I encourage people to come and have a look.

I have been working with the member for Goldstein on this; we share a border on it, and I want to thank her for her collaboration with this. We're working through the details. Our commitment of $10 million for the Yalukit Willam nature reserve actually comes off the back of the previous member for Goldstein, who committed $5.5 million. It is a huge piece of land and it will require every cent, but the $5.5 million from the previous government and our $10 million commitment combined with the efforts of the local council, Bayside City Council, will mean that this will be an extremely special place. I may not be in this place when all of the flora and fauna is at its full strength and all of the trees are at their full height and all of the local wildlife has a sanctuary there upon its completion in decades to come, but I'm very proud to be starting this. I'm proud of our commitment to that area and I'm looking forward to delivering that project with a number of local community groups.

There are other commitments we've made that will be funded as part of this budget. We are going to deliver one of the Medicare urgent care clinics in and around the Alfred Hospital. The Alfred is truly one of the great hospitals in Australia. The staff at the Alfred are extraordinary. This clinic will be in and around the suburbs of the Alfred. It will be bulk-billing clinic and hopefully some of the people who would currently present at an emergency department will be able to access a GP clinic and get the potentially preventative care that a good GP clinic can provide as well as the medical support that they need. We're also going to be delivering a headspace in South Melbourne.

We have made a number of other commitments to some of our local multifaith groups. The Hare Krishna temple in Middle Park—if you ever want a good meal, go down to the Hare Krishna temple where they will provide you a vegetarian meal with a good bit of chutney spice. Honestly, that is one of my favourite things to do in my electorate and I'm getting a little bit hungry now just thinking about it! We're very proud to make a small contribution to the Hare Krishna temple. They do incredible work. One of their philosophies is that they want to feed people within a 10-kilometre radius of the temple. No matter who those people are, if they're hungry the Hare Krishnas will feed them. It's a beautiful, simple concept and I'm proud that we're going to give a little bit of money to that.

The other one is the Baha'i Soul Food program. The Baha'is are a very peaceful group of people who are discriminated against right around the world, especially in Iran. They have a wonderful local community in Macnamara, and I am very proud to know them. I've also had a number of meals with that community! We're proud to support their Soul Food program.

We'll also be making a contribution to the St Kilda synagogue. They have a beautiful dome and a few other things that the state government is supporting them to do, and we're going to support some of their community infrastructure as well. So there are lot of good things happening in Macnamara.

We made a number of election commitments, and I'm really looking forward to delivering them. This budget is responsible. This budget builds on our election commitments that we made, and the Australian people gave us the real privilege of being in government to try to help deliver on them. And this budget also aligns fiscal and monetary policy to try to ensure inflation is brought down as quickly as possible. It complements our work to increase wages in this country. It is the budget that Australians need, and I'm proud it's the budget we are delivering. The first Labor budget in over a decade; hopefully, we will have many more in the decades to come.

7:08 pm

Photo of Garth HamiltonGarth Hamilton (Groom, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

What a joy it is to be following the member for Macnamara and his comments, and I acknowledge his gracious acknowledgement of the work of the previous number for Goldstein in getting that project delivered.

I would like to start my contribution with some reflections from local constituents. On Sunday I was lucky enough to have a barbecue with quite a few local business owners, small and large, from my community. It was a good opportunity to talk about the state the nation, as often happens when you find yourself in these environments, and to speak quite openly with people who have skin in the game when it comes to the state of the economy. Amongst the group there were builders, restaurant owners and healthcare providers. Whilst they all told the story of the challenges they were facing, what became clear and what crystallised in the conversation was a fear that the inflationary pressures that we are seeing are already driving us towards that much feared wage-price spiral that we all desperately want to avoid. There was talk about chefs who were paid $50,000 only two years ago now getting $90,000; of formwork prices going up by 60 per cent during the tender period, mostly from the construction guys; and of healthcare providers simply being unable to keep up with the demands on prices that people were getting in other industries. There was a clear consensus across all of these industries that we're seeing that increase in costs being passed on directly to the consumer. We're describing the intricacies of inflation happening right in front of our eyes, and it's very scary. That is the challenge that we face today. This is the context within which we're discussing the relative merits of this budget.

We are in a time of high cost-of-living pressures. Inflation is rising and interest rates are going up. Across the board, this pressure is being felt. This budget makes for a very good op-ed by the Treasurer; it's full of excellent commentary on the problems that we are faced with across the country. In fact, if we look at the whole commentary and delivery of this from the government, we see they spend a lot of time admiring the problem but not as much time addressing it. I guess when we talk about this budget being a missed opportunity, that's the context we're seeing it in. There are significant pressures being faced by Australians in almost every area in which they turn. And we need to see that plan.

So it is with some regret that I say to the people of Groom that there's very little in this budget for them, which is unfortunate. We've been an area that previous governments have been very, very happy to invest in. They know that every dollar invested in Groom gets returned. We see that not just in public investment but in private investment. During the last term of government we put in $1.2 billion for the Toowoomba Second Range Crossing, a great piece of infrastructure. It took 18 sets of traffic lights out of the delivery of produce from west of Toowoomba going towards Brisbane—a significant increase in transportability to the port there. With Inland Rail, there was $5.1 billion to be spent in the seat of Groom. It's a fantastic project that I will speak more about later. This is an area that is growing. The area of Highfields is absolutely booming. People are flocking to our region and investing. It's unfortunate that we're not seeing that. The headline summary for this project is, of course, that all the things that households, whether in Groom or across the country, are worried about are, unfortunately, still going to happen. The cost of living is going up. Energy prices are going up. Unfortunately, despite a strong campaign by the government, what we see in this budget is confirmation that real wages will not be going up. This will make things very hard.

I reflect back on the election and the commitments that Labor made on real wages, on mortgages and on energy prices. I think they made these commitments because they knew that these were concerns that Australians were facing; these were the very real challenges being felt by families, by households across the country. When elected there was an expectation that these things would be dealt with. It's difficult to see this missed opportunity. By Christmas, we can now see that the average household will be $2,000 worse off. Sadly, there's no plan to address that in this budget. Unfortunately, it's going to hurt most those who are doing it toughest. It wasn't that long ago that I was with the member for Toowoomba South in my electorate, at Southtown shops, talking to John Wilson. One of the things he was describing was how customers were coming in and asking if he stocked the same product in a smaller size. They were actively seeking ways to reduce the cost-of-living pressures that they were facing. That's in an IGA. It's a common experience throughout my electorate—people trying to find ways to reduce those pressures.

I guess this is where we get to the much-talked-about $275 reduction in electricity prices that was raised 97 times prior to the election. There was an acknowledgement by the then opposition that their ambitions towards changing the energy sector in Australia were to be balanced with the reduction in energy costs felt in the hip pockets of Australians. What's very unfortunate in this budget is that we see that not only is that not going to happen; the reverse will be happening. We will see power bills go up by more than 56 per cent over the next two years and gas bills go up by 44 per cent. This is a broken promise, unfortunately, and one that comes at a very hard time for Australians. I take this back to the opening comment: a budget can only address the challenges of the day, and what Australians are looking for is for the government to address those challenges. Unfortunately, we're going to have to wait another seven months or so, until the next budget, before we can hope to see some sort of solution from the government addressing these pressures.

I'm going to reflect on what the previous speaker talked about in far greater detail; I want to touch on it. Unfortunately, this budget has an element of a paper shuffling exercise to it, particularly when it comes to renaming programs that the former government had put in place. I speak particularly about the Building Better Regions Fund. In my area, this was a fund that had a very strong track record of delivering for communities. I could reflect upon the renovation work done for the Soldiers Memorial Hall in Toowoomba that's coming very close to completion now. This was a great public asset, a beautiful building right in the heart of town, that had fallen into disrepair. It was largely unsafe and unsuitable for use, but, thanks to this fund, the Toowoomba Regional Council were able to apply to the Building Better Regions Fund to fix up this historic hall and were awarded $2 million towards the $4 million renovation program. This is a great example of a regional town, a regional asset, being bettered by the use of this fund.

In the most recent round—round 5—I was also proud to announce funding for stage 1 of the Darling Downs Health Museum, to be built at the Baillie Henderson Hospital grounds. The museum would be housed in the heritage listed medical superintendent's house at the site and feature important items from our region's medical history, preserving them for future generations. We have a long and proud history of being a strong health hub in our region. It's a history we would like to see continued. Sadly, the Treasurer scrapped the program midway through round 6, and that means that community groups in my electorate, who'd worked hard to put in their applications, have been unceremoniously dumped from consideration. Projects that were very deserving of funding are now on ice until Labor gets its replacement program, which is called Growing Regions, up and running next financial year. Building Better Regions is now Growing Regions; I'm not sure what the improvement on that is. This is politics for the sake of politics, and it's left, quite frankly, a nasty taste in the mouth of those community groups who are back to the drawing board who had done all that work. I look forward to helping them through the next stage.

There are two very important points I want to speak about that I had hoped to see from this budget: firstly, the Railway Parklands project; and, secondly, Inland Rail. I will start with Inland Rail. This is a fantastic project for our region. The Inland Rail project isn't just running some train line past Toowoomba. What Inland Rail does is establish us as a transport and logistics hub for South-East Queensland. As produce is brought up south along that line and distributed into South-East Queensland, we grow; we benefit. As South-East Queensland grows, we will grow off the back of that. This is regionalisation in action. This is a project that takes work that would otherwise be done in Brisbane and brings it out to Toowoomba, and it really gives us a new economic edge: jobs, growth, prosperity. But it's more. It's 900 jobs during construction—absolutely a key part of Toowoomba's future.

Sadly, from the budget we're very unclear on when this will be delivered. I place this budget within the context of the broader review that the government are bringing in. In my area, this is the eighth review on the inland rail project—eight reviews. I'm adamant that we need to see this project delivered. We need time lines on when that funding will come through so that we can have some certainty on the delivery of this. It has been a long time waiting. Since I've come in, in my nearly two years, I've been a very strong advocate for seeing the rubber hit the road on that project. I'm hoping that in the next budget we'll see a commitment of when that money will be coming forward.

The second project is the Railway Parklands project. I think this is one that is absolutely a missed opportunity, because this project is not just a beautification project. This is a project that addresses one of the key issues we're seeing around the country, which is housing availability and affordability. What this project does—and it was chosen for this very reason; I supported it and I fought for it for this reason—is that it brings medium-density housing into the heart of Toowoomba's CBD. This is so important, because it is how we're going to get that foot traffic through the CBD to support our city traders, and it's how we're going to grow and be able to invite in the young professionals we need. I refer back to members who spoke previously about the challenges we face in regional communities in attracting particularly GPs out to our area. The housing options that we have available are so crucial for us to be able to do that. A project like Railway Parklands is absolutely spot on, addressing the issues of the day.

Sadly, again we don't have any detail whatsoever on when funding for this project may come through, and I think this is an absolute missed opportunity. This is a regional centre that has the opportunity to grow. We've got great projects that have come through our area. What we need now is the housing availability so that we can build and grow off the back of those opportunities.

I will talk to one bright spot, and that is the trailblazer program, a $50 million investment made under the previous government and honoured by the current government, for the Innovative Launch, Automation, Novel Materials, Communications, and Hypersonics hub, otherwise known as iLaNCH, at Uni SQ. This is a fantastic project. It's bringing into a regional town a whole new world of space engineering, a whole new industry—something you wouldn't have expected to see in a regional setting like that 10 or 20 years ago. This investment is crucial for us to continue our growth and continue the offering that we have not only to the young professionals who are out there seeking to develop themselves in this space but also to young children who are coming through and looking for a new pathway. So, that is one bright spot that I will speak to on what is otherwise, unfortunately and sadly, a very disappointing budget, particularly for the people of Groom.

7:24 pm

Marion Scrymgour (Lingiari, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

I rise to speak on the recent federal budget. It was the first Labor budget in 10 years and reaffirmed to me just how important for the Northern Territory a Labor government is. This budget is particularly important for my home in the Territory. After 10 years of waste and neglect, the former government left our budget balance in tatters, with huge debt and nothing to show for it. Cleaning that mess up is no easy job, especially as we face the headwinds of national and global economic challenges. The economic outlook we inherited was bleak, but it now falls to the Albanese Labor government to navigate this environment. I am glad we have the team we do handling our economy and working to build a better future.

I want to speak a bit about what this better future looks like for people in my electorate. I cannot overstate just how beneficial this budget will be to communities back home. Cheaper child care will mean that families and working parents will have much-needed cost-of-living relief. It will mean that parents who want to get back to work can; as a mum who was raising children while trying to maintain the household budget, I know how important that is. Getting back to work isn't always just about extra cash that makes meeting payments all that much easier; it also gives people a feeling of agency and determination. For many people across the country, particularly women, this needs to be highlighted.

For those on the other side of raising kids, for parents of newborns: this budget has you at its heart. Taking time off to raise our children is not a luxury; it is a necessity. These early months are crucial to our young ones but also extremely special times for our new parents. They aren't easy times with the lack of sleep. Keeping the house clean and juggling life's tasks is nothing short of a full-time job. The last thing new parents want is to be stressed out about money and getting back to work. We know how hard our parents are working to raise their kids. This is why the federal Labor budget will help alleviate that stress. We are extending paid parental leave and also making it more flexible. This means parents can share the caring load. This will benefit all our parents and carers, but, again, it's that extra mile for the women of Australia, who for so long have juggled the bulk of carrying the load in many cases.

And it is not just child care and raising kids that this government is making cheaper and easier; it's buying medicines, too. This budget will make it cheaper to buy much-needed medicines. For too long we have heard that people have simply not been taking their medicines because they cannot afford them. This is true for many communities in Lingiari which are hard-pressed with the cost of living at the moment. This measure will save 30 per cent of the cost of a prescription. This is putting more money back in their pockets.

The people of Australia voted for a better future, and the Albanese government is putting in the hard yards to make sure that happens. A key part of that better future is making housing more affordable. We know how hard it is to get into the housing market right now, especially for our young people. For too long the call for more government support for housing has been unanswered. It was an honour to sit in this House as the Treasurer announced the historical Housing Accord, which will see one million homes built across Australia. The federal government, working with all our states and territories, is stepping up to the plate on housing, and I am excited to see the impact this has.

This budget also went a bit further to help support our remote and regional communities in Lingiari. There will be $100 million invested in our homelands to address the critical lack of infrastructure for our families out bush. It's hard to describe how important this immediate funding is. For the last decade the federal coalition government had turned its back on homelands—the traditional lands and homes of so many people back home. I have seen firsthand the desperate need for our homelands to be invested in. There are families living in single-room sheds which are hot in the summer and bitterly cold in winter, families without access to clean drinking water and families without access to roads to their homes. This $100 million is an important step forward and part of addressing the critical state of our homelands. It will enable more people to live on country and it'll take so much pressure off our regional towns and communities, where overcrowding in our major communities is a major issue. It will show our communities that the federal government is finally listening to them. The Labor government's housing package will also, crucially, include 40,000 social houses, of which 4,000 will help women and children fleeing domestic violence. For many of our women suffering from domestic violence, 'Where will I go?' is a debilitating question. This budget takes important steps in helping people answer that question.

Debate interrupted.